The first show of a new season at Belvoir Street theatre, Jasper Jones deals with a lot of issues––from race issues, to growing up and issues about women. It’s partly a ‘whodunit’ story but mostly a coming of age story about a couple of kids in Western Australia in the 60’s.
Jasper Jones is important because it shows how far we’ve come, but also how this progress isn’t enough. Aiming for a kind of realism, it is a fictional story, but set within the time frame of the Vietnam War and Australian politics.
It’s a very funny show that deals with some darker elements, Jasper Jones really is a show for the whole family. It appeals to the baby boomers because the story happens around their time, but it also appeals to the younger generation now who will see similarities between what the kids in Jasper Jones are going through, that it is the same as what teenage kids now are going through.
“The best thing about Jasper Jones is its energy, its heart and its diversity in terms of characters and representation. It is a fantastic story, a good wholesome experience,” explained Charles Wu, who plays Jeffrey, a 12-year-old Vietnamese boy. “There are three of us in our twenties who play younger characters. My character has faced a lot of discrimination and so has Jasper Jones, who is part Aboriginal,” he added.
The award-winning novel of Craig Silvey’s has been adapted by Kate Mulvany who is also acting in this production, playing Mrs Bucktin, Charlie’s mother.
“Jasper Jones celebrates being Australian by showing how far we’ve come, our acculturalization, the sense that as a people we are very strong and we have a need to overcome injustice and to find the truth, and we’re very giving people. Jasper Jones is definitely a story about coming together as a family, [and] as a people,” said Wu. (MS)
Jan 2–Feb 7. Upstairs Theatre, Belvoir Street Theatre, 25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills. $37-$92. Tickets & info: belvoir.com.au or 8396 6242
BY MEL SOMERVILLE