“A hit of The Blue Room Theatre 2019 season, this modern suburban coming-of-age story explores how we hurt each other, how we help those that are hurting, and how your music taste is never better than when you’re a teenager.”- Black Swan Theatre Company
What do you remember about being 13? Would you want to be 13 again?
This is something I thought to myself after experiencing Playthings at the State Theatre Centre. As you grow up it’s easy to forget the things that made you who you are.
What were the cornerstones of your identity when you were still trying to find your identity? And how did you navigate the pressures that come with being an adolescent.
Playthings follows Arnold (Daniel Buckle) and Lucy (Courtney Henri)– two 13-year-olds, crossing the threshold into adolescence, filled with hormones and sarcasm.
Written and directed by Scott Mcardle (and originally produced and presented by Second Chance Theatre), Playthings is a comedically dark look at family, peer pressure, sex, mental health, and what it means to be 13.
At its core, Playthings purveys the audience to acquaint themselves with the prevalence of mental illness in young people. It is a steady reminder to remember that young people are often navigating issues and pressures that are not always visible with a surface glance.
Through the use of dark humour, set design that allows a peak into text chains, and the positioning of relationships with Year 9 English Teachers and Step-Dads, Playthings cleverly encompasses the trials and tribulations that come with being in the purgatory between child and adult.
With only four cast members, each character is able to be fully discovered by the audience, each with a clear backstory or experience that has shaped the choices and person we see on stage throughout the play.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the different one-on-one interactions between each character. It reminded me of the many masks (metaphorical in this sense) we wear through life.
It was intriguing to watch how the characters (particularly Lucy as she was portrayed by Henri) changed their demeanour, language, and level of vulnerability depending on where they were, who they were with, and the topic at hand. It helped to convey the idea that you truly can never know what is going on behind the scenes of someone’s life.
A highlight of this show for me was the use of music. Throughout the show, the actors are perfectly accompanied by a carefully selected cross-section of music.
From a comedic lip-sync of 1997’s ‘Leaving Home’ by Jebediah by Buckle, to the two teenagers dancing together to Carla Geneve’s 2019 single ‘2001’ at the social; the music perfectly reflected the clear emotions of the characters and worked to transport the audience back to ‘simpler’ times.
I thoroughly enjoyed the journey I was taken on with Playthings, and I would recommend it to anyone who find themselves nostalgic for times gone by, has a teenager themselves, or has forgotten what it means to be 13.
Playthings is a collaboration with The Blue Room Theatre and runs until Saturday 8 May in the Studio Underground of the State theatre Centre of WA.
Make sure to get your tickets and learn more by clicking here.
CAST: Daniel Buckle, St John Cowcher, Siobhan Dow-Hall, Courtney Henri
WRITER & DIRECTOR: Scott McArdle, SET & COSTUME DESIGNER Sara Chirichilli, COMPOSER & SOUND DESIGNER Rebecca Riggs-Bennett, LIGHTING DESIGNER Kristie Smith, DRAMATURG Alexa Taylor, ASSISTANT PRODUCER Erin Lockyer