Printable CopySEVENTEEN
University of Adelaide Theatre Guild
The Little Theatre
Until 26 Oct 2019

Review by Anthony Vawser

One of the early works by filmmaker Gillian Armstrong was a documentary entitled “Fourteen’s Good, Eighteen’s Better”; one could easily say about recent achievements in Adelaide theatre that “Thirteen’s very good – and so is Seventeen”!

While the Jason Robert Brown-composed musical took us back to the beginning of high school, and featured an all-teenage cast, UOATG’s production of Matthew Whittet’s comic drama recreates that thrilling, scary, seminal time when high school ends and adulthood beckons, using grown-up actors to put a unique perspective on the events that we witness unfolding.

Those events, in and of themselves, may not necessarily be all that surprising, but this is surely part of Whittet’s point: the fact that audiences will be able to recognise their own adolescence in these characters and their behaviour. The script is funny without being lightweight, and is serious without ever being too heavy.

Casting the roles with adults is far from a meaningless stunt; it actually encourages the viewer to reflect on the differences – if any – between childish and mature behaviour. You may also be led during the show to examine the possible benefits in accessing your own inner adolescent. You will certainly chuckle and smile on a regular basis – but be ready to sniff back some tears too.

The cast of six brave, sharp, talented performers in “Seventeen” are, quite simply, superb, and all deserve to be named here: A.J. Bartley, Lindsay Dunn, Lindy LeCornu, Kate Anolak, Jack Robins, and Rebecca Kemp. They work as a team in all the right ways, antagonistic to each other when required but creating a strange kind of harmony by the end, leaving a bright impression both individually and collectively.

Extra texture and polish is applied to this production by the lighting design of Stephen Dean (operation by Emily Savage), as well as the costumes of Emily Currie, plus sound operation by Guy Henderson and set construction by Phil Short. All of these personnel contribute something interesting and vital to the success of “Seventeen”.

Co-directors Matthew Chapman and Angela Short have once more joined forces to bring an unusual experience to the Little Theatre: a very satisfying one that should both warm and touch the hearts of anybody who could ever claim to have survived being seventeen.