‘Nineteen’ // Underground Theatre Co

‘Nineteen’ was confronting.

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind closed doors at a male sharehouse? Answer: a lot! Nineteen, presented by Underground Theatre Company, shows the real life of young men transitioning into adulthood in a new and confronting way that is very much needed in today’s society.

Nineteen follows the partially verbatim story of George the Writer, Josh the Gym-Rat, Noah the tradie and Adam the stoner as they navigate insecurity, pride, and exes. Mix them all together and you’ve got yourself a recipe for manhood, but is that what it really means to be a man?

Written by Australian Shane Pike, Nineteen first premiered in 2017 at the Brisbane Powerhouse to true Aussie audiences. Pike’s intricate use of Brechtian writing is weaved throughout the play by the main character, George, constantly pulling out of the scene giving us insight and thoughts on his experiences. Additionally, there are a few beautiful scenes working in the cohesive ensemble, whether it’s talking about their first times with women or about self-harm, the four young men come together to push this story forward.

Lighting designed by Clair Yorston was simple except extremely effective. Yorston utilised four main concepts for their design. First was the apartment, this was a general wash across the stage reminiscent of an apartment light. Second was the memory scenes, Blue low light was used to bring the audience out of the story and note the scene occurring was out of the timeline. Thirdly was the ensemble scenes with 3 downlights highlighting each of the actors and finally the single spotlight for George when he told his stories. Using these four basics, Yorston created a heart-felt lighting design that brought emotion into this story. Sound Design by Riley Camejo was plain using pre and post-show music that was appropriate for the production along with basic sound effects that helped the audience differentiate each of the different scenes.

The set design was extravagant and extremely realistic, making it extremely clear the messy and dirty apartment of these young men. Littered with KFC & Domino packets, a clothes hanger (wrongly put up) and beer cans galore! The set added a perfect layer of realism to this production to create a beautiful juxtaposition to the story.

Direction by Liam Wallis was in a word, perfection! Wallis has clearly worked with this ensemble to bring out the most heightened emotion possible to tell a harrowing story. The acting was natural and realistic with the actors beautifully portraying these tormented characters.

Dominic Graves as Noah was strong and proud. Graves entered the stage as the strong and brooding old one of the group however as the story progressed we see the sensitivity and love Noah has for his daughter. Children of divorce or separation can relate to Noah’s story on such a deep level, and the way Graves portrays this heartbroken father is life shattering.

Adam Dobson as Josh is every ‘gym bro’ you see pumping weights at the gym. Dobson is a skilled actor perfectly executing the bubbly friend and the scary bully throughout this production. Through Josh’s story it’s clear Dobson has done his research to execute this role wonderfully.

Ethan Waters is the lead in Nineteen as George. George is a storyteller, and Nineteen was told through his eyes. Waters took an emotional toll through this production and it was obvious they gave such a dedicated and focused performance. During Waters’ monologues there isn’t a fault to be found, pacing was easy to follow as were his projection and expressions.

The stand out in this production was Liam Kenny as Adam. Adam was the high stoner kid who throughout the play devolves into self harm and his eventual suicide. Kenny’s portrayal of Adam was perfectly played, they looked and acted exactly like someone who was high and using drugs as an escape from the real world. His acting during self harm was spine chilling, you could feel the audience’s suspense hoping it would get better and their emotional downfall after finding out about the suicide.

This production is not for the faint hearted, but it tells a necessary and much needed story. It gives us an insight into the growth of a man and what it really means to be a man, Nineteen is a perfect production for anyone looking for a night out to see a wonderful piece of Australian Theatre.

Nineteen’ performed until 2nd of April 2023 at Queensland Multicultural Centre. For more information visit their website.

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