Venue: Flight Path Theatre (Marrickville NSW), Feb 9 – 19, 2022
Playwright: Kasia Vickery
Director: Kasia Vickery
Cast: Natali Caro, Jack Mainsbridge, Lou McInnes, Sophie Strykowski
Images by Noni Carroll
It was five years ago, when the same-sex marriage plebiscite, had come to dominate social interactions in Australia. In Taz vs the Pleb by Kasia Vickery, two high schoolers conspire to rig the vote, in their country town of Albury-Wodonga. Convinced that the adults surrounding them are bigoted and certain to vote against equality, Taz and Shontelle, who are only sixteen and therefore disallowed from directly participating in the democratic process, take it upon themselves to do the right thing for Australia’s queer communities.
Vickery’s re-imagination of events aspires to bring a sense of empowerment, to the many of us who had felt powerless and desperate, when our futures hung in the balance those long months, as the nation toyed with our rights and identities. That helplessness is transformed in the hour-long comedy, into exuberant and radical action, as the two young protagonists flout the law, in attempts to claim autonomy over their own destinies.
As writer and director, Vickery brings a palpable earnestness to this story of youthful rebellion. Some details get muddled in the histrionics, but it is the production’s irrepressible energy that really leaves an impression. Actors Natali Caro and Sophie Strykowski play Taz and Shontelle respectively, with excellent chemistry, and an unassailable sincerity that keeps us convinced and impressed, by the shenanigans of these spirited teens. Jack Mainsbridge and Lou McInnes perform a whacky range of support roles, with varying efficacies, although consistently delightful.
Costume and set designs by Kate Beere are appropriately vibrant, with lights by Thomas Doyle correspondingly colourful and flamboyant. Scott Sohrab Majidi’s sound and music are wonderfully ambitious, able to bring considerable soulfulness to the meaningful tale being relayed.
Taz vs the Pleb pays homage to a generation that values justice, and that believes in political action, at a degree that few had done before. It is the first time that we feel as though, conversations are being persuasively influenced, by those who are yet to even commence higher education, and what they say, and how they say it, seems increasingly irrefutable. In truth, we all know that it is in innocence, that we can find the best of humanity. Allowing innocence to guide us, is perhaps a perennial struggle, but this new turning of tides presents an opportunity for a more righteous balance, in these apocalyptic times.