‘Throne’ was mutinous.
Stepping down the rabbit hole of the heritage-listed Spring Hill reservoir is like entering Alice’s Wonderland, and the last thing you’d expect to be sitting in the middle of a dingy and dark in-the-round audience is a toilet. But Virgo Nash’s ‘Throne’, presented as a part of Anywhere Festival, said otherwise.
‘Throne’ is a story told in moving and youthful tableaux – as if the audience stepped directly into the realities of a person during a fleeting moment to themselves in a bathroom. It almost feels like an invasion of privacy, as we collectively enter the deep tragic, euphoric and triumphant lives of each character.
The lighting of the show was incredibly dynamic and lent a cinematic element to the show. A particular highlight was slow, flashing red and blue police lights adorning the face of Carly, a homeless teenager, as she is wrongfully arrested for possession of drugs. The lights slowly change colours, as though the world was moving in slow motion around her. Scene transitions were executed through neon-colourful lighting changes, which created electricity as if the emotions of one character were being passed to the next as they entered the bathroom.
Accompanying music by Charlie Dryburgh perfectly surmised the action and it sounded like it came straight out of an indie coming-of-age film. It was planetary, ethereally electronic and deeply rooted in the genre.
In the title character of ‘Throne’, the master of the cubicle, Josh Price was endearing and almost God-like as he became a mentor figure for those who dwelled in the bathroom.Nearing the end of the show, Price delivered a monologue about how he did not allow his wealthy background and his parent’s wishes to prevent him from following his dreams of cleaning this toilet, which, despite the humour, is an important concept for younger audiences to grasp during their formative years.
The off-kilter misfit Carly, played by Mia Chisholm, was like a manic pixie dreamgirl. Chisholm’s cutting protest of social norms in a physical embodiment was the highlight of the entire production. Her character is satisfyingly well-written, and Chisholm’s portrayal delivered struggles and victories with an otherworldly understanding of the world around her. Chisholm brought this character to vicious life and forced the audience to face their reality with her.
Rebecca, played by Rachael Woodnet is a working-class girl dealing with an unexpected pregnancy and an inconstant boyfriend named Seb, played by Oscar Long. Her story was so tangibly tragic because Woodnet brought her to life, and managed to balance her dual storylines of class and womanhood with empathy, which served as a direct juxtaposition of Seb’s selfishness and misguided advice.
Bodhi Nash’s magnetic portrayal of Odette, the frantic ballerina fighting the criticism of those around her while simultaneously trying to figure out what she wants, was profoundly relatable for any young person who grew up in the arts.
Jamie Dickman as Tim, the somewhat bumbling but deeply compassionate and subverted personality, represented of police treatment of lower-class young people and was performed with a lot of heart and a good dose of comedy
As a whole, the ensemble of stories weaved together to showcase the struggles faced with characters, forcing them together in solitary defiance of their backgrounds. All of the performances felt grounded in a sense of lived experience and emotion. They evoked memories of being a scared, insecure teenager and roused familial anger over the current state of affairs for young people. Nash’s writing manages to encapsulate the angry, anarchist sentiments that so many hold against the establishment, and the script is especially poignant in this turbulent, pre-election period.
‘Throne’ was truly a perfect unity of passionate young artists who fully understood and fought for such stories to be told. It was a painful, humorous and honest depiction of how class disparity impacts contemporary Australia. ‘Throne’ is one of those rare pieces of political theatre that speaks directly to the anger of young people, and sends a battle cry to older generations in power, warning them of the consequences of their policies and politics.
‘Throne’ performs until Saturday, 14 May at Spring Hill Reservoir and a secret location in Noosa. For more information visit the Anywhere Theatre website.