Gautier Pavlovic-Hobba, Kate Vozella and Sam Delich in Blackrock.

Posted by & filed under Arts & Entertainment, Theatre & Performance.

A teenage party down at the local surf club spells grog, cones, sand and harmless fun. But before the night is through, a gruesome discovery is made – a 15-year-old girl raped, murdered and left for dead.

Blackrock, Nick Enright’s harrowing work of fiction inspired by the actual 1989 murder of teenager Leigh Leigh in Stockton, NSW, proves its enduring relevance with White Box Theatre’s noteworthy staging at The Seymour Centre under the direction of Kim Hardwick.

The set (which is at first covered in a large autopsy-esque plastic sheet) is sensory and simplistic – a large rock face protrudes from a sand covered stage. Effectively evoking an ocean side atmosphere, together with a skirting of milk crates and plastic lawn chairs and a coastal soundscape. This staging choice may be a little distracting during non-outdoor scenes, but overall it works.
With a dedicated cast exposing the rawest of human emotions, this production taps into the misdirection, objectification of women, unchecked aggression and toxic masculinity (read: “bro culture”) that feed into rape culture and situations like the one this play deals with.

With a few subtle updates (an iPod here, a selfie there) Enright’s portrayal of Australian youth culture holds up just as well in 2017. The vacant stare of rich boy Toby Ackland (Alex Packard), surrounded by people who are more concerned about saving him from his punishment than his crime, is spookily evocative of Brock Turner’s mug shots.

Considered, weighty and wonderfully executed (especially considering the budget constraints), this production of Blackrock is important and telling theatre, and trigger warnings should be well regarded. (AM)

Until Mar 25, varied performance times. Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre, cnr City Rd & Cleveland St, Chippendale. $35-$42. Tickets & info: www.seymourcentre.com