‘TEETH 2 TAIL’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by December 10, 2014

‘TEETH 2 TAIL’ is a new, richly written play by WA based, Steven McCall. Steven recently graduated from NIDA’s scriptwriting course. It is this year’s Curtin STAGE ONE production. STAGE ONE an initiative of the Performance Studies area at Curtin University that offers a WA playwright the opportunity to premiere a new play. It also gives the theatre students the opportunity to work with three professional artists-in-residence (a playwright, a director and a designer).

This 80-minute, high drama can be seen for one week only, at The Blue Room Main Theatre, 53 James Street, Northbridge. Performances are nightly, at 7.00 pm until Saturday 13th December.

 

A two-metre high, wire fence, with barbed wire around the top surrounds the rough and tough senior school. The yard is littered with leaves, school desk, an old rusty oil barrel and the stark concrete walls of the school, with steel girders as their hard, crowning glory (Designer, Patrick Howe and built by Bianca Stewart, Jennifer Scullion, Annika Jane, Eleanor Davison and Alexander Gerrans). Christopher McIntosh sourced the unusual props.

        In the corner of the schoolyard sits 14-year-old Eva (Eloise Carter), a slightly nerdy introvert. Because her Grandfather was on the Kokoda Trail, and her brother, Clint (Ryan Hunt) is serving in the forces in Afghanistan, Eva is obsessed with war history. Much to her mother, Trish’s (Ashleigh Morris) horror she wants to join the forces.

Latching on to Eva’s infatuation with history, the two school bullies, Sophie (Zoe Street) and Cate (Gemma Middleton) attack her ruthlessly, and regularly, Eva has to be rescued by her caring teacher, Ms Carlton (Amelia Tuttleby).

Eva’s only real friend is the shy youngster, Lucy (Amy Johnston) who may have designs on Eva. Lucy is forced by the school slut, Paige (Holly Dodd) to find her customers. Poor insecure Harry (Kane Parker) is ripped off in his determination to discover ‘the meaning of life’.

Eva’s older sister, Matilda (Violette Ayad) is pregnant to her abusive boyfriend, junky Turk (Sean Guastavino). Will Eva take Ms Carlton’s advice and leave the area?

 

McCall has cleverly blended present day tragedies with flashbacks of the horrors of war, as Eva recalls her Grandfather’s stories. There are dozens of good solid, interesting storylines in this meld of human psyche and life’s inevitable route. These are brought to life with the photographs (Leigh Brennan) and visual projections, Tristan McInnes.

A few months ago, many of these actors were in the wilderness, but director Mark Storen, to quote a school movie, has ‘taken them from crayons to perfume’. There were some amazing performances, all were WELL above average, but top marks must go to Eloise Carter and Sean Guastavino. The dramaturg was under Michelle Endersbee guidance, and she had the large group of actors perform well in the small space. With a flash of light, or an explosion, the schoolyard was converted for a few seconds to the trenches, the horrors of internment camps with the inmates clawing the wires, before returning to a parallel situation in modern life. The comparisons were at times quite horrific.

The clever costume choice described the wearers’ personalities perfectly (Sally Ostrowski and Amanda King). The lighting effects (designer, Karen Cook) were well thought out and presented. From blood red sets to the stark coldness of the battlefield. The lighting operators were Rhiannon Peterson and Aaron Smith. The sound effects were numerous, but the most spectacular being the overhead helicopter (Soundscape Elliot Macri, George Ashforth and Stephen McGuire).

Samantha Barrett and her deputies, Kharla Fannon and Amy Tamati, efficiently handled the stage management.

A very powerful play, with many metaphors on life over the years. From the seedy to the brave, the controlling to the dominated, this show has it all. One of Curtin’s best presentations. Try to catch it and admire how all aspects have been undertaken and conquered.