Review: ‘17’

The artistic directors of Australia's capital city theater companies rarely find time to work outside their immediate environment, and when they do it's unusual to find them gigging in the education sector. But that's what Queensland Theater Company topper Michael Gow has done with his latest play, "17," staged by the Australian Theater for Young People.

The artistic directors of Australia’s capital city theater companies rarely find time to work outside their immediate environment, and when they do it’s unusual to find them gigging in the education sector. But that’s what Queensland Theater Company topper Michael Gow has done with his latest play, “17,” commissioned by London’s National Theater’s educational Shell Connections program and staged in Australia by Nicole Kidman’s alma mater, the Australian Theater for Young People.

Gow’s charming script about a girl approaching her 17th birthday with trepidation is written for two 16-year-old lead actresses and an ensemble of twentysomethings playing the birthday girl’s parents and crazy cousins.

Lisa Kowalski is terrific in the beautifully written role of Ella, who is fearful of the secrets she’s about to discover about a wacky extended family she never knew she had.

Nicholas Dare’s simple set, a suburban house interior and a doorway at once representing the front door and an exit to another realm, is effective.

But Gow’s script is undoubtedly the star of “17.” Scribe has rendered his teenagers as smart, empathetic and ultimately wiser than their elders, surely the greatest gift a writer can give young performers and their audiences.

17

Australian Theater For Young People, Sydney; 95 Seats; A$15 ($12) Top

Production

An Australian Theater for Young People presentation of a play in one act by Michael Gow. Directed by Timothy Jones.

Creative

Sets, Nicholas Dare; lighting, Anthony Pearson; sound, Daniel Krass; production stage manager, Kim Benware. Opened April 23, 2005. Reviewed April 26. Running time: 1 HOUR, 15 MIN.

Cast

Ella - Lisa Kowalski Jinny - Emma Rugg Dan - Ben Wood Mum - Jessica Hurley Dad - Patrick Kelly Sal - Hannah Liddy Wal - Sam North Teacher, relative - Shannen Still Student, relative - Elisha Oliver Student, relative - Aimee Falzon
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