Review By Michelle Sutton
Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) in association with Auckland Theatre Company presents The Resistance written and directed by Kip Chapman at The Rebel Theatre. The play is an interactive show, discussing climate change, the power of protest and youth.
Set at the base camp for a climate youth action group, the stage is full of tents, tables, chairs, and a metal tower construction right in the middle of the stage. Set and costume designer Tobhiyah Stone Feller does a great job setting the stage to be bursting to the brim with supplies and materials, conveying the feeling of passion, restlessness and a bit of chaos within the group of activists.
The show stars young performers Diya Goswami as Marlee, Lakesha Grant as Bundila, Thea Sholl as Pepper and Jack Walton as Miro. Right from the opening scene I was immediately struck by the immense charisma and confidence of the cast, the ease and charm with which they introduced themselves as their characters and commanded the entire crowd to hang on every word and go on the journey with them for the next 90 minutes. The four young actors are all mesmerising in their own unique way, Walton brings Miro’s movable neurosis to life, Sholl is a laugh riot as the rebellious anarchist Pepper, Goswami is funny and endearing as nervous over-thinker Marlee and Grant is impossible to look away from as the passionate Bundila. The way that Sholl and Grant interact with the audience is especially impressive, Sholl with impeccable improv and comedic timing and Grant with a natural openness, authenticity and charisma that is undeniable.
The cast is rounded out by Genevieve Lemon as Drew and Jo Turner as the minister and police officer. Lemon expertly grounds the story and provides laughs with almost every line she delivers. Turner is equally funny and volleys with the crowd and volunteers on the stage with a sense of mischief and delight.
Kip Chapman’s script is masterful, with an important and long-past-urgent message, a lot of heart, and a fantastic sense of humour. The show is thoroughly human, whilst addressing the inextricably linked issues of climate justice, Aboriginal Land Rights and justice for First Nations people it explores the complexities of friendship, privilege, power dynamics and is a an absolute joy the entire way through. This is a testament to the strength of Chapman’s writing, and the skills of the dramaturge Adrianne Diff and Jane FitzGerald and the assistance of cultural consultants Abbie-lee Lewis.
The Rebel Theatre is the perfect venue for the show, allowing the right space and shape for the characters to take turns directly addressing the crowd and breaking the fourth wall. The runtime of 90 minutes works well for this type of high-energy, attention-demanding interactive show, allowing the show to feel spontaneous and full of life the entire time, never dragging or exhausting the audience.
The Resistance is a fresh, fun, sharp show that doesn’t pull any punches, guaranteeing the audience a night of big laughs but also challenging them intellectually. It is innovative in its production design and ambitious in its immersive and fast-paced nature. Kip Chapman’s script and direction shines to illuminate the stars of the show, the young cast whose promise and potential is truly dazzling and awe-inspiring.
The Resistance runs at The Rebel Theatre until 11 March and is a superb show for audiences of all ages.
Image Credit: Clare Hawley