Venue: ATYP (Walsh Bay NSW), Sep 6 – 16, 2017
Playwright: Declan Greene
Director: Rachel Chant
Cast: Jeremi Campese, Ruby O’Kelly
Image by Rupert Reid
Sebastian has been coughing up blood. He is being bullied at school, and we observe that at home, things are not faring much better. Computer games and a close friend Claryssa, however, keep his spirits up. Declan Greene’s two-hander Moth, features a pair of teenage outsiders trying to figure things out in a hostile environment, with little more than each other for support. The work begins with familiar scenes of schoolyard mischief, but becomes increasingly surreal, along with the escalation of Sebastian’s mental illness.
The play gives expression to dark sides of today’s youth with an impressive honesty, but leaves us to manage an understanding of how this has come to be, and how we are able to find improvements and solutions for the ones we are wholly responsible for. Greene’s sharp focus on the phenomena of youth disenfranchisement within our communities, is edgy and unquestionably disturbing, but also tremendously intriguing, and in parts very entertaining indeed. Moth‘s reluctance to explain itself makes us work harder, and hence, fall deeper into the theatrical quandary that it presents.
Director Rachel Chant does spectacularly in having us experience both the mesmeric and repulsive qualities of Claryssa and Sebastian’s story. The show is urgently energetic, and even though it struggles to retain coherence when the plot turns resolutely obtuse, our attention is always pulled back into its tumultuously evolving narrative, by Chant’s extraordinary flair for manufacturing poignancy. Remarkably well designed, the production’s visuals and sounds are a real pleasure. Todd Fuller’s animated projections and Alexander Berlage’s lights add rich and exciting dimensions to the staging, while Chrysoulla Markoulli’s music and Tom Hogan’s sound design impact upon our consciousness with circumspect precision.
Actors Jeremi Campese and Ruby O’Kelly are flawless in the piece. Campese’s potent charisma proves irresistible, and instrumental in how we regard Sebastian’s very upsetting downward spiral. He is a captivating presence, with the uncanny ability to take us through fluctuating spells of drama and comedy seamlessly, sometimes simultaneously. O’Kelly is meticulous in her exacting depiction of Claryssa, with intelligently construed gestures and utterances, offering us a beautifully nuanced study of the troubled teen. These kids worry us. We understand their dependence, and we can see in their eyes, the most accurate image of the world that we become.