Review: Trafficked (Darling Quarter Theatre)

traffickedVenue: Darling Quarter Theatre (Darling Harbour NSW), Jun 13 – 15, 2014
Playwright: Carli Carey
Director: Carli Carey
Cast: Sorcha Harrop, Amy Fisher, Michael Smith, Jace Pickard, Isaac Reefman

Theatre review
The play begins with television news reports from a commercial station about the subject of human trafficking and modern slavery. As is often the case with commercial news, the stories are sensationalist, and the network’s watermarked logo exists almost as a reminder to take everything we see with a grain of salt. Of course, its themes are genuine, but we have learned as a society to remain sceptical about the things we are told, and we demand concrete evidence before outrageous claims can be believed.

Trafficked tells horrific tales of young Australians in captivity and enslaved. They look and sound like any young adult we know, and are even of Caucasian appearance. The play subjects them to incredible cruelty, and tells their stories with earnest fervour. The characters are intertwined and build relationships with each other, but everything they say is addressed directly to the audience. It feels like documentary, but there is absolutely no indication that their words are not entirely fiction. Their stories are unbelievable, and we struggle to be convinced by anyone.

Performances are uneven, but Michael Smith and Sorcha Harrop work hard to make their parts meaningful. They have good focus, and show excellent commitment in tricky moments of melodrama. Smith has a good presence that makes him the most memorable element of the production. Harrop succeeds in encouraging some empathy, and impresses with the stamina she displays for her arduous role.

Technical aspects are very lacking. Light and sound design are poorly judged, and execution seems to go awry from start to end. It is obvious that there is a serious lack of experience in the crew, and it is unfortunate that a more accomplished production manager had not been assigned to assist and nourish this young crew.

Every project in the arts is an opportunity to grow. Director Carli Carey and her team have not created a masterpiece on this occasion, but they have succeeded in turning talk into action. They have put money where their mouths are, and are therefore one step ahead of those who dream but do nothing.