Normal by Katie Pollock.
Directed by Luke Rogers. Canberra Youth Theatre. The Playhouse. Canberra Theatre Centre. October 22-24 2020
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
|Holly Ross as Poppy in Katie Pollock's Notmal
The title of Katie Pollock’s play Normal begs the question “What is normal?” In a bold and impressive move, Canberra Youth Theatre’s Artistic Director Luke Rogers has brought Pollock’s probing question from company’s customary intimate theatre space at Ainslie Gorman Arts centre to the expansive and fully professional stage of the Canberra Theatre Centre’s Playhouse. It is a challenge that the company and Youth Theatre’s four young actresses embrace with vigour and assurance in a performance that is confident, authentic and at times profoundly moving.
|Holly Ross as Poppy. Elektra Spencer as Skye
| McKenzie Battye-Smith as Heather
The answers are elusive, but what is clear in this excellent vehicle for these young actors and their audience is the trouble and the torment that young people on the brink of adolescence face in their daily lives, both the imaginary and the real. The harmful impact of social media and the terrifying exposure to trolling play their part in this sobering account of the terrors that confront Poppy and her peers.
|Jessical Collins as Shop Girl
At an uncertain time of a Covid new normal, the uncertainty that underpins Pollock’s play is powerfully relevant, but we are left to find our answers, which remains slightly unsettling in a professionally staged production with excellent performances from four young actors. Or maybe it is a purposeful ploy to compel us not to judge but to understand. In a final moment of the play the four girls erupt into an Abigail moment like the girls in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible break into chilling accusatory unison before the court.
I don’t know, but what I do know is the Canberra Youth Theatre production of Normal and the performances of four fine and highly promising actors will compel me to think and search for answers, which is what a piece of outstanding theatre is meant to do.