May 03, 2016

Gender duality in world of adolescent alienation

by Elena Carapetis
State Theatre Company
Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
May 3. Tickets : $20 – $38.
Bookings: BASS 131 246,
Duration : 60 minutes
Until May 7. SA Regional tour May 9–27.

“Feel …what is that… I feel…pissed off ?” asks Lee, a teenager at the end of his tether, “Yeah. Like my whole body has become a fist. I’m made of fists, all of me, ready to smash something.” In this year’s State Ed schools touring production, State Theatre Company features a new work from Elena Carapetis. Like The Good Son, her excellent debut play from 2015, Gorgon is set in contemporary Adelaide and examines the intense, alienated, frustrated world of late adolescence.

Maz and Lee are close mates but their friendship is strained by Maz’s cruel arrogance and Lee’s envy and unspoken angst : his father is a bully and his mother mentally ill, whereas Maz’s parents are affluent and doting. He even gets a car for his 18th birthday. When the two go speeding in the Adelaide Hills, there is a fatal accident. The play then focuses, exactly a year later, on the impact on Lee, the guilty survivor, and Maz’s twin sister Lola, perpetually lost in the shadow of her favoured sibling.

Drawing on the Greek legend of the Gorgon Medusa and her snake-haired sisters, the writer not only questions male and female emotional stereotypes but reverses the myth so that, instead being a terrifying monster who turns men to stone, it is the Gorgon who is trying to restore the young man to life.

From the staccato opening image of Lee’s anguished dance, accompanied by Will Spartalis’ heavy metal score, with spiky monochrome back-projections and stark footlighting from Chris Petridis, director Nescha Jelk’s production has a pace and urgency which is catnip to its young audience. Kathryn Sproul’s astutely minimal design features a cracked concrete grey wall (for text and other video display) and a bulky sofa for the car ride sequences. The set is then pried open to become a chaotic apartment where the cathartic confrontation between Lee and Lola takes place.

In the dual roles of Maz and Lola, Chiara Gabrielli is key to Carapetis’ theme of gender duality. As Maz she presents both his swaggering entitlement and his undeclared feminine, while as Lola, she captures the persistence and courage of a young woman staring down rage to find resolution.

James Smith is outstanding as Lee. While depicting the torment and sullen grief of the character, he also highlights the playful comedy and wry narrative asides which Carapetis blends into her text.

Nescha Jelk and State Theatre have excelled with this well-targeted production. Gorgon looks long and hard at some timely themes.

Murray Bramwell

“Gender duality in world of adolescent alienation” The Australian, May 5, 2016, p.18.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment