Friday, May 10, 2024



Writer: Shannon Molloy

Adaptors: Nelle Lee, Nick Skubij with Shannon Molloy

Directed by Nick Skubij

Shake & Stir Theatre Co.

The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre to 11 May


Reviewed by Len Power 9 May 2024


You could be forgiven for thinking that a student’s homophobic experience involving gay-bashing, constant bullying and betrayal, must have occurred way back in the 1950s at least. In “Fourteen”, based on the best-selling memoir by award-winning journalist Shannon Molloy, it’s shocking that his story happened as recently as 1999.

Taking place at an all-boys rugby-mad Catholic school in Yeppoon, regional Queensland, where Molloy was a year 9 student, we follow him in a year of self-discovery set amidst this backdrop of homophobia – not just at the hands of his peers, but by the adults who were meant to protect him.

As much uplifting and funny as it is gut-wrenching and honest, this coming-of-age memoir is also a story of resilience, the fierce support of close friends and family, teenage hopes, dreams and the music of the time.

Shake & Stir Theatre Co. have transformed this story into a powerful theatrical production full of energy and imaginative staging. It’s a colourful, edgy entertainment that takes the audience on a whirlwind journey through this time in Molloy’s life.

Achieving an easy intimacy by speaking directly to the audience, Conor Leach plays Shannon Molloy with charm and strength. In spite of the madness around him, we sense that he will survive and be stronger for his experiences. It’s a highly-nuanced characterization.

Conor Leach as Shannon Molloy

The six other cast members, Leon Cain, Karen Crone, Judy Hainsworth, Ryan Hodson, Amy Ingram and Steven Rooke play multiple roles of the people in Molloy’s story. They are all effective and believable, creating a series of memorable characters.

Director, Nick Skubij, keeps the action moving at a break-neck speed. The level of his imaginative staging is breathtaking, utilising every part of the attractive and substantial multi-level set designed by Josh McIntosh.

Sound designer and composer, Guy Webster’s driving musical background of 90s hit songs adds immeasurably to the atmosphere of the time and the lighting design of Trent Suidgeest adds an appealing visual polish to the show.

Queensland’s Shake & Stir Theatre Co. have given us another highly original and memorable staging that is a raw and exciting entertainment.


Photos supplied by the production.

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at .