It’s an oft dished-out dictum: “your teenage years are the best years of your life”. For Claryssa (Sarah Ogden) and Sebastian (Dylan Young) of Declan Greene’s Moth, the response is a resounding: “fuck you”. Moth is a co-production between Arena Theatre Company and the Malthouse Theatre, and is also the much anticipated major stage debut of Greene, one of Melbourne’s most exciting young theatre artists. Worlds away from his work with Union House Theatre (Rageboy 2006) and his trash-camp company with Ash Flanders, Sisters Grimm, Moth is an intense and poetic exploration of isolation, insecurity and adolescence. Rhythmic, tightly structured and then carefully unravelled (like the gloomy grey rolls of Jonathon Oxlade’s set), the real strength of Moth rests in Greene’s resistance to glorify or embellish not just teenagers, but ‘quirky teenagers’ too – Claryssa and Sebastian aren’t like Juno, the gang from Skins or the girls from Ghost World. They are complex, confused, charged and changing individuals who are also painfully, painfully alone. There is an honesty to the text, emphasised in the performances of Ogden and Young and the undercutting, haunting score of Jethro Woodward, that is affective, engaging and completely heartbreaking. The intelligent simplicity of Chris Kohn’s direction not only suits the work and the intimate Tower space, but allows for subtle moments of intense impact – stark sounds and bursts of light – to break through, even when apparently very little is ‘happening’. Moth is, much like a teenager, beautiful and uncompromising, challenging and disorienting, occasionally hilarious, raw and wild. It reaches to the margins of adolescence, the frustration and the fear, to tell a story that needs to be told.
May 13 – May 30, Tower Theatre, Malthouse.
Bookings at http://www.malthousetheatre.com.au
This review will be featured in Farrago, Melbourne University newspaper, edition 5 2010.