It’s always great to see new work in an Anywhere Festival, and particularly in a venue that enhances the experience. Tremayne Gordon’s High School Never Ends: A Double Bill included two short, one-act plays (High Hopes, and the longer Book Return), both performed by Izzy Cameron and Jordan Jeckells. Both plays are set in high schools, which meant that the Montessori International College Pavilion provided an excellent setting for the double bill. And both plays reminded us that the lessons with most impact are not always learned in the classroom—and that the shortest of friendships can have the longest impression on our future.
Arriving in the dark, it was a little difficult to read the carefully-placed chalkboards that set the scene for the first of the two plays. Walking along the candle-lit boardwalk, we followed the timeline that had taken school friends Addy and Drew from their first meeting through to being ‘Prom’ King and Queen. So we were primed and ready for the first piece, and the countdown to the end of high school, and what might happen next. Cameron and Jeckells created a highly-believable duet—from the fascination with the frantic kissing going on just off-stage, through to the difficult decisions facing new high school graduates (uni or not, home or travel, study or work…).
After a 15-minute interval, the stage was reset for Book Return and the audience were invited to return to the Pavilion. This second play was also about the impact of school, and of a short friendship that had a significant impact—told from the perspective of Andy (Jordan Jeckells), and illustrated with flashbacks to his short time getting to know a new student (Izzy Cameron), and the lessons Andy learned from their very different life experiences.
The two plays provided an enjoyable contrast, and Cameron and Jeckells were well-cast, creating four believable characters with a lightness of touch and command of the ‘stage.’ And they were both adept in drawing out the humour from each script.
Any non-theatre space can offer some challenges. Covering the breadth of the room did distract a little from the opportunity to build toward the conclusion of Book Return, and I wasn’t too enthusiastic about the red smoke haze in the countdown for High Hopes. Perhaps in a future iteration, the Director (Daniel Dosek) might reconsider the use of the two sets of louvres, and find another means of highlighting the pressure of the ‘countdown’ in High Hopes, and a different venue might allow for a less linear blocking of Book Return. Each change might increase the intensity of the experience of the two short plays for future audience. And I would love to have seen perhaps a triptych of plays, with a third one-act piece rounding out reflections on different aspects of the school friendships.
Verdict: Tremayne Gordon’s entertains with reflections on learning from the high school experience, and solid performances by Izzy Cameron and Jordan Jeckells
Audience tip: 60 mins, including a 15 minute interval. 12+. Smoking and some haze/smoke effects. High School Never Ends: A Double Bill (High Hopes & Book Return) ($20) had only three performances during the 2019 Anywhere Festival (7pm, 24-26 May, 2019). Drinks available for purchase on-site, and can be taken into the performance.
The reviewer attended the Saturday 25 May 2019 performance (7pm), at The Pavilion, Montessori International College, 880 Maroochydore Road, Forest Glen.
Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.