theatARGH

thoughts and frustrations on Melbourne theatre through bright young eyes

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Review of Apocalypse Bear Trilogy, MTC

Young people characters in popular culture tend to suffer one of two fates. The first, which we’ve seen since the fifties and perpetuated into the new millennium by the Disney Channel and High School Musical, is the glowing, effervescent, mostly-white, asexual charmer whose smile is so severe it threatens to pierce their unfathomably rosy cheeks. Even amidst all their adventures, troubles and strife, said youth is always looking out for their friends, and for that which is ‘right’ in face of ‘evil’ and the temptations of the ‘wrong’. Because, naturally, innocence is something that needs to be contained. The other is the youth turned more troubled and tortured, impossible and unrelenting, on the cusp of their pubescent explosion. The bigness of emotion and the fires of injustice and rage begin to surface; think Degrassi High or even the bitchy backstabbing and Machiavellian manipulation of The Babysitter’s Club. Sweetness is replaced with blots of sadness – suddenly the world is a far more complicated and dissatisfying place – and nobody, nobody, understands. How often, though, do we see youth characters which flit between these boundaries; which avoid the stereotypes of the angst-ridden teen and somehow deal with the fantastical and magical naivety, and wonder, of childhood that they are leaving behind, but which we know never really leaves us? Young people are, after all, a strange and mystifying bunch – their hopes, fears and insecurities are amplified and expressed in the most confusing ways – which somehow makes their contradictions and complexities all the more difficult to navigate. It is easy to see them one way or the other – to simplify them as separate from adults, and in their own chrysalises, waiting to discover their new bodies and emerge as mature men and women of the world. But to wrap flesh around their uncertain bones and to explore the darkness, the dreams and the chaos within – to really look at them, and see them for all that they are as youth – is so much richer, and also so very human, regardless of what we may find. Read the rest of this entry »