A thought-provoking show about the frustrations and musings of under-18s, providing insights as to their thoughts about the adults in their lives. I really hope more adults get to see this new work, and listen to the questions and concerns of the next generation.
Waiting for the start of Dear Adults we watched one of the performers writing in a journal, and listened to music that included Me! and When I grow up (Adam Charlton, Sound designer). A perfect start to this thought-provoking show.
Co-writers/producers Virag Dombay and Harry Fritsch both appear in this production as the ‘adults,’ and Dombay also directs this memorable show, but the rest of the cast all appear to be under 18. Which is as it should be for an excellent piece of verbatim theatre, which draws on letters written by children age 6-18.
Themes cover everything from too much screen time, fears of not meeting expectations, through to issues of identity and bullying. Amusingly, the screen time issue was about parents paying more attention to Facebook and email than to their own children. The poignant story about not wanting to go to school which was beautifully played, and the musical box/barbie ‘identity’ scene was one of many standout moments. It was also fascinating to hear references not only to personal relationships and the challenges of being a child, but also of world issues—where the lovely letter to Sir Richard Attenborough was particularly memorable.
Moments such as ‘please hear me,’ ‘I hope I won’t disappoint you,’ ‘please don’t push me aside,’ and ‘why can’t I decide where I live’ really tugged on the heartstrings. But this was also a show that was positive and often quite funny. The challenges of wanting to grow up, and make their own decisions, were counterbalanced by desires to remain a child (the representation of Dombay’s life as an adult was funny, but also presented the life of an adult to be deeply unattractive, when viewed by children!). It was great to see the various dramatic devices at work to create appropriate pace, with moments of light and dark in the piece; I loved the use of the tug of war, and the opening with the ‘child’ writing in the book really drew the audience in.
The cast demonstrate a maturity of thought and performance that impresses. Congratulations to Lucinda Alexander, Liam Buess, Lola Cain, Isaac Cain, Aidan Calleja, Bede House, Baxter Jordan, Mia Munro, Jaime Powell, Helena Salisbury, Rose Swanepoel, and Ruby Thornley—and to their two ‘adult co-performers, Dombay and Fritsch.
Dear Adults is a show that deserves to reach a wider audience. I’d love to have seen this show in a library, or perhaps even in a school or childcare centre. I hope that the cast take Dear Adults into schools, as it would be fantastic as part of drama workshops, to provoke creative writing and other discussions in schools—hopefully combined with evening shows, so that more adults get to see it too.
Verdict: A thought-provoking work, with impressive under-18 actors. Moving, inspiring, and sometimes funny.
Audience information: 45 minutes. 5+. Four shows (including preview) in this world premiere season (21-22 May 2021) at Arcana, 46 Evesham St, Moorooka. Tickets $25 ($20 concession). Limited street parking.
The reviewer attended the Friday 21st May 2021 (5pm) preview.