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Review: ATYP’s Intersection

ATYP's latest performance offers 10 stories for the price of one.

Ingrid Leighton and Steffan Lazar. Image by Tracey Schramm. Ingrid Leighton and Steffan Lazar. Image by Tracey Schramm.

WHAT: Intersection
WHERE: ATYP Studio 1, The Wharf

WHEN: Ends 18th February

The ten stories that make up Intersection, the newest production by Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP), felt so intimate that I was surprised when the cast of 19 actors re-entered the stage to take their final bows. The vulnerability and earnestness with which each scene had been executed was so personal that it was easy to forget the sheer number of people involved in the creation of the show.

Intersection is the product of ATYP’s annual National Studio, a workshop that brings together 20 young and emerging Australian playwrights to each create a short themed piece of theatre.  The resulting performance, sensitively directed by Katrina Douglas, provides a tender portrait of Australian adolescence and the universality of young people’s private anxieties.  

The collection of writing in Intersection varies significantly in tone and style, and although the pieces felt thematically similar, they didn’t necessarily work as a cohesive unit. There was no clear reason for the order in which the stories were placed, which seemed fairly arbitrary. I felt slightly exhausted after watching several highly emotional pieces in a row, which could have been better spread out across the production. That being said, the quality of the writing was generally outstanding. Lewis Treston’s Starlight Plaza, whereby a German exchange student vies for attention from her formal date, was hilarious and incisive. Alex Chorley and Iris Simpson’s quiet chemistry was also enrapturing in Dive by Izzy Mcdonald.

Daruis Williams and Alex Chalwell in Yield. Image by Tracey Schramm.
Daruis Williams and Alex Chalwell in Yield. Image by Tracey Schramm.

Thomas De Angelis’ duologue Yield stood out in particular, masterfully handled by Alex Chalwell and Darius Williams. The image of a young man attempting to uproot a broken tree on his father’s property was particularly gripping, represented by a rope wrapped around a concrete pillar. My favorite story of the night came in the form of USyd alumna Angela Collins’ Blueberry Play, delivered by the scintillating Esther Randles. Swathed in an electric purple blueberry costume, Randles performance is at once both humorous and deeply moving. 

While at times it felt as if certain pieces lacked the careful direction paid to others, the throbbing lighting and sound design in Intersection was subtle and delicate, bringing a sense of consistency to a production that was in some ways uneven. The set design, punctuated with an artificial grassy knoll in the centre of the stage really came together in the final monologue of the evening. The effervescent May Tran rounded off the production with a quiet, contemplative warmth.

May Tran. Image by Tracey Schramm.
May Tran. Image by Tracey Schramm.

Intersection as a production was much like the teenagers within it: heartfelt, passionate and occasionally messy. It provides an exciting glimpse into what the future of Australian theatre holds. I believe it is worth buying a ticket just to see how much this production grows and flourishes over the rest of its season, just as these young writers and actors will continue grow and cultivate their craft.

ATYP’s Intersection is continuing from 1-18 Feb at ATYP Studio 1, the Wharf.

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