University of Adelaide Theatre Guild Student Society
The Little Theatre
Until 09 Jul 2022

Review by Holden Ward

“THIS IS OUR YOUTH”, by Kenneth Lonergan, as performed by the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild, is an excellent debut from young director George Jankovic.

The two-act play takes place in a grotty New York apartment in 1982. Don Oswald’s set design and Deli Cooper’s furnishing and props effectively paid homage to this era with a small television set, record player, landline telephone and unframed photos stuck on a wall.

Lonergan is perhaps better known for his film work however, “THIS IS OUR YOUTH” was his first play, premiering in 1996. The script is a well written drama, laced with humour, and unashamedly focussed on a young person’s perspective within a short time period, much like the approach pioneered by JD Salinger in “Catcher In The Rye”. Jankovic notes that, unlike some playwrights, Lonergan remembers what it is like to be young, and we see that the script honestly delves into the good, bad and the ugly of youth. The play’s content is very relatable, especially if you are young, or like Lonergan, have not forgotten what was like to be young!

This production has been extremely well directed, and the three talented actors have been cast to maximise the compelling characterisations of the three protagonists. Dennis Ziegler, a confident drug dealer, was played by Connor Duncan, who owned the stage, and was able to display aggression and contrasting vulnerability very convincingly. Liam Warmeant played Warren Straub, Ziegler’s somewhat trouble-prone friend. Warmeant’s portrayal was quite relatable, with an authentic awkwardness, played out in his uncomfortable friendship with Dennis and his romantic attraction to Jessica Goldman, played superbly by Anastasia Harrald. The smart sophistication of Jessica was cleverly balanced with the relatable insecurity of her developing identity. The occasionally awkward conversations between Jessica and Warren were timed to perfection and very entertaining.

All three actors were able to maintain convincing American accents throughout, without over-doing the New York dialect. Some opening night nerves were occasionally evident, but these were professionally managed and did not detract from this absorbing and enjoyable production.

“THIS IS OUR YOUTH” is highly recommended. Unfortunately, it has a short run, so if you get the chance to go along, you won’t be disappointed!

*Disclaimer: Director George Jankovic is also a reviewer for the Adelaide Theatre Guide*