‘X-Stacy’ was X-ceptional.
‘X-Stacy’, the play many drama students’ study in high school, yet is so rarely performed outside of a school setting, truly is a poignant play. Written by Margery Forde and originally performed at, and commissioned by La Boite Theatre Company, producers Mira Ball Productions and Trent Sellars have created a phenomenal rendition of this play.
‘X-Stacy’ follows the story of seventeen-year-old Stacy and her turbulent relationship with family and drugs, particularly ecstasy. The play explores the events leading up to her unfortunate overdose, as well as the fallout nine-months later, with scenes moving between the two times.
The team should be highly commended for the work they have done bringing this play to the Ron Hurley stage. Their simple yet effective set, strong cast, stylistic scene changes and incredible sound design all launched the audience into the world of the play.
From the moment the audience walked into the foyer of the theatre they were immersed into the world of the play. Disco lights played across the walls, wrists were stamped with the word ‘X-STACY’ and glow sticks were handed out to every patron. Before the play had even started, the production team had the audience eating out of the palm of their hand.
The set for the production was simple and static, yet incredibly clever. Of particular note is the LED light crystal on the back wall of the set. Each individual string of LEDs could be controlled separately which allowed the crystal shape it was in, named after the club within the play, to be played with throughout.
During club scenes individual lines would strobe, the whole crystal could change colours, and during the church scenes, it changed to just light the cross in the centre. The other main setting, Anne’s home, was created by using a couch and placing a wooden backdrop behind it. Simple, yet it gave the audience enough to let them feel it was a home without detracting from any of the other scenes.
The entire cast of the production were all incredibly strong in their roles and worked so closely together as an ensemble that it was hard to choose any standouts. Each actor committed one-hundred per cent to their role and the relationships between the characters were strong and believable.
In the titular role of Stacy, Ruby Sanders played a believably bratty and drugged up teen. Though her young Stacy was perhaps a bit too mature, she was still a very likeable character. Sanders had the audiences loving her incarnation of Stacy from the get-go. Her scene with Jenna (Ebony Hamacek) towards the end of the show where her drug-induced anger climaxed was a sickening delight to witness. The two girls had an unbelievably strong rapport together, bouncing off each other’s energy and driving the scene.
Alison Telfer-McDonald in the role of Anne was a beautiful mature presence throughout the piece. She truly captured the essence of a mother who has just lost a child and also embodied the doting, Christian, loving mother she was during the pre-overdose scenes. Telfer-McDonald’s interactions with Father Paul (Trent Sellars) and Zoe (Elodie Boal) were fantastic. The three actors seemed to almost unknowingly work together to be the calming, rational presence throughout the piece.
The last member of the family, Ben, was played brilliantly by Connor Hawkins. From the very first scene, Hawkins had the depth required for the complex character, as he bantered with his perfectly slimy best mate Fergus (Arun Clarke) the audience, and it seemed Ben himself, almost forgot about the tragedy that had occurred. Throughout the play, Hawkins slowly pulled away the layers and revealed the turmoil of Ben’s life. He played this against believable drug-induced states, emotional outbursts and a good dose of teen angst. His interactions with Boal and Clarke were fantastic, and the scenes with any of these three actors in them burst at the seams with energy.
Director Elodie Boal already deserves the highest possible praise for the work she has done with her actors to ensure that the characters they brought to life were real, living people in every facet of their being. Yet more praise is due for her work with the transitions between scenes. Though some may have been a touch long, they were all done stylistically. If there wasn’t music playing, there were actors on stage moving the script along whether that was dancing in the club, dancing to the radio, or having a mental breakdown.
For a show so centrally focused on club culture and the music that comes with it, the soundscape design by Mal Boal was perfect. From the time the doors opened there was club music blasting through the speakers. Every scene was different, with music to underscore and suit every mood within the production. There was also the incorporation of a theme for Stacy that played, either on its own or remixed with club music, whenever Stacy appeared.
The only fault with this production was that the music was a touch too loud at times, particularly when the actors were speaking. However, some of the blame for this can be shared by the Ron Hurley Theatre, which doesn’t have the best acoustics. The cast did an admirable job with their projection given they were competing with the music, the bad acoustics, and (on opening night) a real live tempest of rain pouring outside.
All in all, ‘X-Stacy’ was an emotional, important, and powerful production and the team should be incredibly pleased with what they have brought to the stage. For a play that many have studied, and have significant exposure to, the audience still found itself lost in the world of the family, immersed in a story that is as relevant and necessary today as it was when it was written.
‘X-Stacy’ raves at the Ron Hurley Theatre until Saturday, 13 October 2019. For more information about the production and to book tickets, visit www.x-stacy.com.
Disclaimer: Cast / Production Members working on this show also work for Theatre Haus, but rest assured, we always take steps to ensure our reviews maintain their integrity and are free from bias.