Review - La Boite's Samson
Ashleigh Cummings and Benjamin Creek and Charles Wu and Belinda Jombwe..
By Julia Rose-Lewis
La Boite/Belvoir Theatre Company Production
Season: April 17-May 2. Bookings: 07 3007 8600 or www.laboite.com
This is a first-time play about teenagers from a new playwright that has leapt into mainstage production. At its premiere the production won whistles, cheers, and lots of applause from a mainly
It’s about four youngsters from a poor socio-economic background; a white girl, an Aboriginal boy, an African girl and an Asian boy who, for various reasons are stuck in a tiny town somewhere on the edge of society. Samson of the title is dead: he broke his neck while doing a dope-on-a-rope trick over a not-deep-enough creek.
He is mourned by Beth the African girl who fancied herself as his girlfriend and has set up a shrine to his memory. Sid, the Asian boy is in love with Beth and has his own problems
Essie is the white girl who has left school, has no job, no hope, and is full of teen angs. She is sort of
courted by Aboriginal Boy Rabbit. He is new to town and everyone is suspicious and resentful of his presence. Beth and Essie are best friend – but Essie has a secret: she knows that Beth’s dream lover was gay but has never been brave enough to tell her.
So we have a contrived group of teens who say “fuck” four or five times in every sentence. This might be an easy way to write “authentically” but does create a very boring and lack-lustre script in which all the characters sound alike.
Oddly enough for all the profanity and bad behaviour none of them have had a sexual encounter.
There is no real story, not beginning and no ending. The play is basically a series of encounters between the four, some tender some violent, some playful and some spiteful.
Despite the appreciation of the audience, the play lost me, possibly because a lot of the dialogue was spoken in “teen-speak” which, as anyone who has spent time working with teenagers will know, is incomprehensible to anyone other than a young teenager.
The dialogue was spoken too fast for my ears and many of Benjamin Creek’s words - he played APCA graduate Rabbit - were lost in the in-the-round format. That was a pity because he was one of the most convincing characters on show. Maybe director Kristine Landon-Smith might have spent more time on his vocal projection
I am aware that bad language is common today with teenagers, in fact the F word isn’t even considered to be swearing any more, but while the dialogue might be realistic, it is shallow and highly repetitive.
The young actors performed well with what they had. Ashleigh Cummings, well known for her TV work, played Essie, the town rebel who liked to dress in unflattering clothes and is a soft touch underneath her outward toughness.
Belinda Jombwe made an interesting Beth and gave a strong performance as did Charles Wu as Sid.
This is a play that should resonate with schoolchildren and older teenagers who would recognise the characters as their peers and associate with them, but for older theatre-goers like me, it might be a bridge too far. I just couldn’t relate to the characters on stage and soon lost interest in the teenage whingeing.
At the after paerty... Photos by DeannerScott