Review: Chrysalis (ATYP)

Venue: SBW Stables Theatre (Darlinghurst NSW), Jan 31 – Feb 17, 2018
Playwrights: Joseph Brown, Pippa Ellams, Harry Goodlet, Liz Hobart, Alexander Lee-Rekers, Madelaine Nunn, Julia Rorke, David Stewart, Phoebe Sullivan, Gretel Vella
Director: Rachel Chant
Cast: Brenton Bell, Anika Bhatia, Caitlin Burley, Jeremi Campese, Claire Crighton, Ben Tarlinton, Clare Taylor, Margaret Thanos
Image by Tracey Schramm

Theatre review
The delicate allure of a butterfly in full glory, is always under threat. The idea of a pupa however, is infinitely more satisfying, with its imminent beauty promising only majesty and wonder. This collection of ten short plays by young Australians may be named Chrysalis, but not only does it feature talent brimming with awesome potential, it showcases some surprisingly mature work that is already soaring with splendour. To witness such youthful triumph is indeed breathtaking.

An unequivocal highlight is a trio of remarkable and exhilarating monologues for the teenage girl. Writers Pippa Ellams, Julia Rorke and Phoebe Sullivan each deliver pieces that are playful, poignant and powerful, all giving extraordinary voice to female characters we routinely underestimate. Joseph Brown and Harry Goodlet show us in their respective segments, starkly different ways our boys behave with each other, but both are unabashedly tender in their depiction of affection and kindness, a refreshing change from the all too familiar rowdy machismo we have come to expect, of narratives concerned with Australian men and their mateship.

Director Rachel Chant does outstanding work in helping us find a sense of cohesion for the disparate plays, through her exquisite calibration, from story to story, of tone and style. Also impressive is her work here with the brilliant cast of eight. Every actor in Chrysalis is compelling and persuasive, all of whom are sensational with the incredible depth and authenticity they put on display. A sophisticated sense of humour further elevates the production, giving us some very smart laughs in addition to its many moving moments.

It is so marvellous seeing our young talk about their need for anywhere but here. Ambition is admirable, and when coupled with aptitude, the sense of optimism it provides is truly invigorating. The life of an artist is not an easy one, and many will fail to cut the mustard, but those who persist will be greatly rewarded, although rarely in accordance with early expectations. We must all grow up, and to choose to grow alongside the practise of art, is at once noble, and brave.