Review: #Three Jerks (Sweatshop)

rsz_sweatshopVenue: Wharf 2 Sydney Theatre Company (Walsh Bay NSW), May 24, 2014
Playwrights: Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Peter Polites, Luke Carman
Director: Roslyn Oades
Performers: Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Peter Polites, Luke Carman
Image from ABC TV

Theatre review
The show takes the form of a rehearsed spoken word presentation. Three authors are positioned with scripts on music stands, and a projection screen behind them bearing the image of an Australian map with the words “Under New Managment (sic)” scribbled across. The men read their own stories, and chime in with the others’ for dramatic emphasis when required. There is very minimal movement involved, and there are no costumes. This production is not in any way elaborate, but the writers work thoroughly with their voices to communicate their vivid and powerful writing.

The script is essentially composed of three soliloquies, interestingly combined, and there is potential for a more conventional theatrical rendering. #Three Jerks is fresh, original, and gutsy, with characters that many will find intriguing. It is a frank representation of young men and teenagers from Western Sydney, and providing them a voice in our cultural landscape is of great importance. The writing is colourful and dynamic, and works well in its current state, but even though the authors’ readings are surprisingly vibrant, the text calls out desperately for actors to memorise the lines, and to deliver them not just verbally but also physically. The liveliness of the stories and the power of its vernacular will provide the right theatrical practitioners with an opportunity for a work that contemporary Australian art has been hankering for.

#Three Jerks offers insight into a slice of Sydney life that seems to exist for mainstream society only in our news media. Self-assertion is necessary to correct misrepresentations of one’s own identity. Dominant cultures will always be in positions of power that uphold systems, whether intentionally or otherwise, that attempt to subjugate minority groups into persistent positions of disadvantage, and it is up to the disadvantaged to effect revolutions, and here is a solid early step.

www.sweatshop.ws