Club Extimacy - The Black Box Collective 3

‘Club Extimacy’ // The Black Box Collective

‘Club Extimacy’ was intimate.

With a floor littered with empty cups and haphazard caution tape sectioning off visitors, audiences attending Black Box Collective’s ‘Club Extimacy’ knew exactly what they were in for. Set in a bathroom, ‘Club Extimacy’ gives a fly-on-the-wall glimpse into the lives of club-goers. Centring mostly around the story of two best-friends, who have reunited at a 21st birthday party after a contentious friendship-break up, we hear about their weekend escapades, as well as romantic and platonic heartbreak.,

The aesthetic of ‘Club Extimacy’ was finely tuned and familiar to anyone who has experienced a night out on the town. Reminiscent of long nights spent in Fortitude Valley nightclubs, the bathroom set was barebones, almost falling apart, covered in graffiti and gig posters, and littered with the long-forgotten belongings of club-goers past.. 

Lighting design allowed for some intimate moments, filled with discovery and deep exploration between characters; particularly during the dance scene, which opened the show. Neon lights broke through a blackout and gave the character’s privacy to let themselves go in an electronic-music fuelled dance party. It was a cinematic-styled highlight of the show. Not to mention, an inherent benefit of Backdock Arts is that these intimate moments become all the more tangible due to the smaller audience sizes in this niche space. 

‘Club Extimacy’ is a work that is fresh and current – a valuable quality for any new work to have, especially when it’s among the many classics and adaptations that seem to dominate most fields of entertainment as of late. For this particular show, it was almost as if the writers had placed a secret camera and microphone in a club restroom and hit record. The dialogue and voice-overs from the foolhardy DJ Rick were witty and hilarious, because they were so relatable. Everyone, no matter their age, can easily understand these recognisable characters, who ignite memories long since (thankfully) forgotten. Through the humour and riotousness of ‘Club Extimacy’, the writing team have managed to weave a touching story of friendship and social relationships through early adulthood. While this was a clever concept, there could have been a deeper dive into this concept, as often the jokes and gags interrupted the narrative structure. Despite this, direction by Chelsea August showed a willingness to play within the space, as almost every part of the theatre (including the aisle) were utilised by the cast. 

The cast comprised of Ayla Long, Hadyn Imhoff, Zoe Schramm, Jarrah Leslie-Baker, Maisie Crossdale (covering for Sarah Jarvis), Eve Conomos and Hayden Jai, each of whom played an innumerable amount of ensemble roles and principal characters with ease and distinction. Particular commendation must be given to Maisie Crosdale, who became a COVID cover just four days before the show opened. Collectively, the cast’s comedic timing as an ensemble was spot on,  the small moments of raw emotion stand out all the more. They all had a stake in this performance and it was clear they had trust in one another and enjoyed performing this work. 

Ultimately, ‘Club Extimacy’ was a work that fits beautifully into the Fortitude Valley atmosphere, and is a distinctly youthful work that shows a perspective on how young people interact with each other and with society when their defences are down. While the writing could have benefitted from further narrative development, it is a promising work from recent graduates and that in itself is exciting. ‘Club Extimacy’ gave a glimpse of the kind of theatre we can expect to see more of on Brisbane stages.

‘Club Extimacy’ performed until Friday, 1 July 2022 at Backdock Arts. For more information visit the Black Box Collective website.

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