Last Tuesday (June 16), I had a chance to see a play here at the Bille Brown Studio at West End called 25 Down. It was produced by the Queensland Theatre Company and written by 26-year-old Richard Jordan. His script won the Premier’s Drama Award last year.
Now let me just say that I don’t get to the theatre very often. I wish I did though. Given that I see 220 odd movies a year, it’s often hard to find the time. It’s also difficult to find people to go with. There’s a “stigma” attached to theatre which makes people think that it’s only for upper class society. Not every thinks like that but I know plenty of people who do.
Over the past twelve months, there have been a few performances I wanted to catch. There was Attack Of The Attacking Attackers, a sci-fi horror spoof performed at the La Boite Theatre. There was Chicago (the musical) which showed a the Lyric Theatre and starred Catherine O’Connor. I missed both sadly.
That was not to be the case with 25 Down. Having read some great reviews on the internet and seeing that it boasted a young cast, I figured it was worth the effort. I signed up a couple of friends (Jonno and Ange) and went along. It’s actually a really nice theatre. We got there about an hour beforehand and had a drink and a few nibbles in the foyer. The show was a sell out with roughly 200 in the audience. There were definitely more older people but it was good to see quite a few young faces in the crowd.
Before commenting on the play itself, I have to comment on the wonders of live theatre. Call me naive but I have the utmost respect for what the cast and crew put themselves through. I sent Richard Jordan a congratulatory email after the show and he said that it took two and a half years to get from the first draft to today’s production. That’s a lot of effort and I’m sure there would have been plenty of ups and downs along the way. So many budding writers never make it this far and yet they keep plugging away.
As for the cast, they spent months in rehearsals going through every word, every gesture, every movement. Now I know we all have our own jobs and probably work just as hard as these actors do but I still find it impressive. They come back night after night and perform the same show. It’s not like a movie where you can always cut and try another take. They put themselves out there and can’t afford to make a mistake. Given I’m usually in a darkened theatre looking up at a big white screen, it was refreshing to see something “live”.
The play itself was really good. It’s about a group of young people who are drifting aimlessly through life, in search of a future and in search of love. There are some great one-on-one conversations which are both intelligent and insightful. It gave us plenty to reflect upon when leaving the theatre and dissecting it over dinner.
I’m having difficulty summing up all of the film’s messages and emotions without oversimplifying it. What I took away from the story is that whilst we may think we’re alone and that we have our own unique problems, this is rarely the case. You’ll learn that pretty quickly when you meet these characters. Having spent years doing what is necessary to fit in and “keep up appearances”, they let down their guard and reveal their insecurities.
The one sad part about seeing a play is that all that remains afterwards is a memory. For my favourite TV shows and movies, I can always buy the DVD and watch it whenever I like. That’s not the case with a live show. When it all wraps up, the director, the writer and the cast all go their separate ways and move on to new projects. This reminds me of one of all time favourite quotes – “I’m not going to tell this story the way it happened. I’m going to tell it the way I remember it.”
As I mentioned earlier, 25 Down is currently showing at West End up until July 4. You can find out more and buy tickets at https://www.qtix.com.au/show/25_down_09.aspx. The cost is between $30 and $56. Many of the sessions have been sold out in its first two weeks so you’re best to book ahead.
Now that my eyes have been opened to what wonders are on offer in the Brisbane theatre world, I’ll be making more of an effort to see a lot more in the near future. 25 Down has left a lasting impression.
25 Down: Matt's Trip To The Theatre
- Written by Matthew Toomey