The Prospect Theatre for Young People has been stimulating the creative minds of young people for more than ten years now. This year, they produced Undertow at Payinthi Eliza Hall for the Adelaide Fringe.
This show, written by director, Margaret Steven collaboratively with the cast, all members of the Senior Performance Group, is an important coming of age play for the company. What is refreshing about Undertow is that it is not afraid to tackle the big issues that young people are constantly grappling with – identity, loss and grief, and connectedness. Steven has allowed these talented young performers to inject a mix of youthful exuberance and emotional honesty into the performance.
The setting, a beachside holiday village, is the place where two seemingly different “tribes” gather – the locals and the tourists, and then work through the tensions that ensue. The opening scene has the “locals” gathering to pay respects to one of their own who has passed away too soon. There is some nice foreshadowing here, as this untimely death will be explored again in a tense and nicely written “reveal” which allows the company to explore important questions about identity and fragility.
The “tourists” bring their own emotional baggage to this beachside resort, as young people grapple with betrayal and infidelity from those they rely on the most. The emotional scarring that adults can inflict on young people was a very tender moment in the play.
There is also much playfulness as the cast explore their own foibles and insecurities. The cast is as comfortable with comedy as it is with emotional truths.
The PTYP have produced another very good play with excellent emotional material for the young cast to explore and for the audience to ponder on.
Fringe Review By Bob Becker