Review: Political Children (ATYP)

innerwestyouthVenue: ATYP (Walsh Bay NSW), Mar 1 – 3, 2017
Playwright: Felicity Nicol
Director: Felicity Nicol
Cast: Sebastian Cutcherwirth, Emma Hooton, Elodie Jake, Lola Rose van Overdam, Theo Tunks
Image by Michael Snow

Theatre review
Felicity Nicol’s Political Children emerges from the Safe Schools debacle, that saw a national program designed to protect LGBTQI children, turn into a battle ground, on which members of government and the media were able to focus their hateful rhetoric for political gain. A pretense of public debate allowed prejudice and misinformation free rein, culminating in a state of hysteria that saw ignorance and idiocy triumph.

An opportunity to educate new generations on the true nature of human sexuality and gender expressions, was quickly shut down by forces of bigotry. Fearful of enlightenment and the consequential benefits to society, the disdainful have severely hindered what was to be the end of our worst prejudices. Not only are there people who want to live in lies, it seems that they are the ones who have the power to preserve a particular modus operandi that relies of the systematic subjugation, vilification and abuse of parts of our community.

It is a piece of verbatim theatre, of sorts. Composed of material from Australia’s vast media landscape, what we hear in Political Children are things people have said, previously documented on different platforms, now collated and presented on this stage. Nicol as both writer and director, is exacting and forceful. There is nothing ambiguous in what the play wishes to express.

Lights by Benjamin Brockman and music by Nate Edmondson are employed with a deft touch to guide us boldly through every unequivocal statement; technical design for the production is heavily relied upon not just to cue emotional responses, but also to help us with all the character and plot details we need to know. It is a very young cast of actors, teenagers full of gumption, ready to discover the wondrous magic of the art form, along with a deep exploration into the complex social aspects of sexual and gender diversity.

When it comes to pleasures of the flesh, there is nothing to fear but fear itself, yet our consciousness is filled with taboos and prohibitions, oppression and suppression, and a whole lot of guilt, in relation to the experience and conception of sex. Our practice of gender too, is informed by wholly arbitrary and harmful rules that wish to limit each person’s potential, all of which seek to control, and to persecute. Nobody stands to benefit from the persistence of this utter and cruel stupidity, not even its most fervent advocates.