Adelaide Fringe 2016
Blackrock is an emotional Australian drama. Based on tragic real-life events, the play provides an insight into the devastating effects that the rape and murder of a teenage girl can have on a small community, and what can happen when ‘mateship’ is taken too far.
Tandanya Theatre is a beautiful little theatre, tucked inside the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. The setting is lovely, with a lively bar and cafe also in the building. Happy hour post-theatre drinks are available, with a subsidy for theatre-goers. The special was Sangria and very delicious it was too!
Having been warmly welcomed into the theatre, we took our seats. The seating is strongly ranked for an excellent view from every seat. The setting for the production was extremely simple – the rocks themselves and a large poster advertising the location of each scene. The opportunity to use the back wall for a projected visual display was missed and that was a shame. That said, the actors used the space available particularly well and the notices did at least make sure no one got lost in the story!
The plot of BlackRock is gritty. The language is consistently strong. This is a young cast and they worked really well together. At times their youth showed more than it might have done (the parents were clearly a little older than the children, for example, and their reactions seemed a little overdone at times) but their commitment to the play was consistent. Stand out performances were given by the main characters. Whilst the pace was a little slow in places, the rape and the anguish that follows from it were charged with emotion. The portrayal of the town and the complexity of the relationships within the tight-knit community had real life and at the end I cried for the young man who so nearly escaped and made something of himself as well as the brutal and senseless loss of three young lives.
This is rightly a popular text in schools and the largely school-based audience clearly knew the play well and were engaged with the play throughout. It was a shame that there was little shock at the language and the suicides that followed the action of the play: a comment, perhaps, on its realism for young people and the state of our society today.