There are bananas everywhere and I have my suspicions why.
Perth theatre company The Last Great Hunt has tackled the topic of teenage sex education in The Talk, a 70 minute play written and directed by company core artist Gita Bezard. The play follows on from Bezard’s success last year with The Advisors and has a similar theme of deconstructing social patterns. The warm-hearted story follows fifteen year old Eva who wants answers after an unsatisfactory one night stand. Rozina Suliman’s quite beautiful set on the small stage at Subiaco Arts Centre is framed by blue shelves stacked with pink rolled towels and yes lots of bananas.
The show opens with Eva (Cassidy Dunn) belting out Let’s Talk About Sex with her school friends (Megan Hunter and Christina Odam). Sound designer Ben Collins’ song mashes are scattered through the show and add a high energy musical vibe. The sex drenched lyrics are apt, from Lollipop Lollipop to There’s No Aphrodisiac Like Loneliness. Let’s face it, there’s no shortage of material on the topic!
Bezard milks the comic potential with her snappy, pointed dialogue. Her characters are mostly recognizable stereotypes and they need to be as they are all played by the trio of girls, dressed in school sports uniforms and swapping roles mid sentence. The transitions are seamless, helped by Karen Cook’s lighting and Collins’ droll sound samples – that piano romance track!
Dunn is well-cast as the sweet but bold Eva, sympathising with the school nerd, patiently fielding questions from her gossiping friends and ultimately starting a school riot with her pink vibrator and the chant: “What do we want? Good sex (education). When do we want it? Now.”
Odam swaps between a gossiping school friend and a prim teacher who expertly demonstrates how to put a condom on a banana (saw that one coming) but shrinks from Eva’s questions about how old and just how in general.
Hunter gives a quite exceptional performance of Mikey, a sexting boy with a fetish for the reproductive lives of insects. She also puts in a showstopping cameo as Eva’s horrified mum, holding the vibrator at arms length and unable to find the off button while the audience disintegrates into laughter.
Meanwhile the school yard offers plenty of advice “If you don’t know what to do with your arms try doing the actions for YMCA” and abuse “Hey Eva are you a mirror, because I think I can see myself inside you.”
The tension builds until Eva finds support from eighteen year old Sally (Odam again) whose advice boils down to find what makes you feel good and ignore the rest, cue Haillee Steinfield’s masturbation anthem Love Myself.
It’s about teenagers so maybe I should be satisfied with that, but the answer didn’t match the depth of the questions Eva was asking. It was a surprisingly shallow ending for a play designed at least in part to probe deeper. Eva seemed satisfied with Sally’s ‘wisdom’ but my sixteen year old associate critic and I agreed she shouldn’t have been. Still the fact that we were even having that conversation together proved the play had done its work.
The Talk is at Subiaco Arts Centre until April 21st.