Friday, July 22, 2016


Directed by Katie Cawthorne
Canberra Youth Theatre
Ralph Wilson Theatre, Gorman Arts Centre to 24 July

Review by Len Power 21 July 2016

Canberra Youth Theatre’s ‘The Verbatim Project’ presents a slice of sixteen individuals’ experiences in their lives so far, provoking the question, ‘Does age matter? In the end aren’t we all just having human experiences?’

This one hour presentation involves ten 13 to 15 year old performers and six from the 65 to 80 year old range.  Katie Cawthorne’s production is entertaining as well as thought-provoking.  Starting from audio and video interviews with the performers, the production has been developed into a theatrical experience using those interviews in various ways.  Some moments are scripted using words and expression as originally heard in interview while others use the device of ‘headphone verbatim’ where performers listen to the voice of someone else, while repeating exactly what they’re saying with the same rhythm and expression.

What is particularly exciting about this production is the way all the elements have been brought together into a complete theatrical experience.  Using only a number of uniformly coloured chairs on a bare stage, the cast create vivid dramatic moments through voice, movement and stillness.  Everyone onstage displays great confidence and skill in their playing through a series of concepts involving age, gender, anxiety, war, love, family, justice and death.  Particularly powerful was the relating of the experiences of an older and a younger person to different wars.

The assured and imaginative direction by Katie Cawthorne makes this a very compelling production.  She is aided by the excellent lighting design by Brynn Sommerville which adds to the atmosphere as does the sound design by Ethan Hamill and Kimmo Vennonen.

Being a part of this troupe of performers must have been a great learning experience about theatre and life in general.  For an audience it’s a production to enjoy and remember.

Len Power's reviews can also be heard on the Artsound FM 92.7 'Artcetera' program from 9am on Saturdays.