Review: School Dance
SYDNEY: You’ll be transported back to your adolescence in this play full of teen angst, raging hormones and 80s hits.
We all remember the school disco. While aimed at ten to fifteen-year-olds, Windmill Theatre’s School Dance, an often hilarious, quite mad show at the Sydney Theatre Company, will have broad appeal. It specifically gives us Gen X-ers a flashback to the early 1980s and those dizzy nights of adolescent angst under a spinning mirror ball. Some lines will make you wince but you’ll spend more time laughing your ass off.
Matt (Matthew Whittet) wants to make a move on the school spunk. He is terrified. This is because he’s a loser. The play’s not-so-subtle off stage narrator confirms this fact. At least he’s a loser with friends. Supporting the hunt are the totally uncool, long-haired Luke (Luke Smiles) and in-the-closet Jonathon (Jonathon Oxlade). You may have noticed the characters share the same name as the actors because, as it happens, this is a very personal piece and the three leads play larger than life versions of their younger selves.
Whittet could have easily written a simple tale of crusty teens and their insecurities and strung it together with 80s hits. But Whittet is a textual adventurer and director Rosemary Myers has got his back. He has his teen self – walking through the world feeling invisible – actually become invisible. He finds himself in a parallel universe (in a spangly black bodysuit) and it’s up to his mates to bring him back. There are plenty of trippy times and witty pop references – my highlight being the BMX bandit moment where the boys tear around their neighbourhood after dark with Bonnie Tyler providing the soundtrack.
The main cast members are also the chief creative contributors. Smiles composed the original music and Oxlade designed the set. Of course, there has to be a girl and Amber McMahon plays four different female roles and brings something special to each of them. Then there has to be a nemesis and Jack Wetere, all rippling biceps and bad mullet fits the bill. He has great presence. I’d like to see him in a hero role.
This show was a sold out hit at last year’s Adelaide Festival. It’s bound to do the same here. This is a must see. Kidnap a teenager, if you haven’t bred one, and take them along.
School Dance plays at Wharf 1, Sydney Theatre Company until February. School Dance is also at Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Wollongong from February 7-9.