Dumb Kids Review
ATYP’s reviewing program was created to give young people a platform to voice their opinions and experiences while developing skills in critical reflection. The views expressed are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of ATYP or its staff.
Two hours have passed and there is a classic empty Big Mac box with fries sitting next to me when I bring myself back to reality to ask what has kept me in this car for so long. I quickly rewind 4 hours where I brought along what I like to coin a ‘non-theatre goer’ to KXT Bakehouse’s new show Dumb Kids produced by Legit Theatre Co. A modern queer play about navigating identity and sexuality – something we are all familiar with in any way shape or form. When it hits me that these two hours had been occupied by a prompted fruitful discussion about the binary, gender, sex and love. All experiences we as young people either struggle, lust, or live in. The world premiere of Dumb Kids has been able to beautifully portray these emotions in an authentic and multidimensional way that leaves not only me but my ‘non-theatre goer’ friends questioning our high school experiences and what we even define the binary as.
Starting with a bang, you are transported back to an Australian high school through Benedict Janeckzko-Taylor’s minimalistic yet clever set design that the characters weave through similar to the way they navigate their emotions throughout. As you are immersed back to the days of choosing what balloons you want at your formal, each stereotype (or rather lack of), has been portrayed through a multifaceted lens, allowing the opportunity to empathise with their character arc in some way or the other. This continues through movement-based ensemble work that was truly cosmic and led by Emma Van Veen.
A notable mention to all 10 ensemble members who were phenomenal as they made it a point to skillfully engage with the audience on either side, tying the comedic elements together to ensure each moment could be seen. Throughout Dumb Kids, sex is also explored tastefully, demonstrating the thought processes, complexities and emotions that modern media can quickly neglect. The directorial choices of Sophia Bryant made within and around the alternative seating of the theatre allowed you to connect with this social discussion, as you could witness each character’s thoughts unravel from various expressions and dream-like sequences.
Jacob Parker’s writing truly spoke for itself as he artfully curated moments in which the ensemble could pick up, creating seamless comedic and episodic segments that provided us with the subconscious of each character. Dumb Kids also investigated the resentment that can come with friendships and should be commended for their promotion of healthy coping mechanisms and forgiveness when it is due, curating a positive perspective on how to cope with these emotions when your internal monologue is already echoing inside your mind. The binary of friendship can be conflicting in itself as you are challenged by self-satisfaction and selflessness as seen by Gabe specifically. Yet Jacob Parker’s writing allows for these experiences to be humanised rather than vilifying the individual because at the end of the day, we all have our faults and it is how we learn from them that truly determines who we are.
This show was LEGIT a comedic masterpiece that had me laughing, crying and questioning everything I once knew about myself. So taking it back, I’m sitting there in the dark, with stars above my tiny Toyota and a silence falls between my friend and I. It was at that moment I realised that Dumb Kids was more than just an indie performance with an incredible team behind it, it is a conversation starter. One that holds the power to reinvent the way we portray the high school experiences of queer people and that it is okay to not know where you stand in this limbo of binary because what even is it?
Lea, 18 [she/her]
Dumb Kids plays at KXT until the 8th July. Buy tickets here.