Natives was a beautifully written play that explores the interplay between the universal experience of youth and the context of our digital reality. The play was wonderfully performed and produced, paying tribute to the well-crafted journeys created by Glenn Waldron.
The play begins in an almost Homeric tale, with the God of Creton forcing their Child on a journey between mystical caves and valleys as a punishment for their disobedience. As the story became colluded in the complexity of its own poetic description, I prepared for a night of high concentration. But just as I began to drown in the sea of its figurative language, it transformed itself, allowing the language of today to continue the ancient legacy of defiant youths.
These three central youths were placed across continents and contexts, all on their 14th birthday. Sophie Strykowski plays an inner-city socialite, growing up without any material limits, she appears to live in a world where her singular struggle is to decide what to wear to Lily Kwok’s Funky Fourteenth Birthday Dance. An assumption so quickly disrupted by the complex performance of Strykowski, as the fishing wire stability of her Instagram friendships snap in just one bad comment, ensuing a constant sense of anxiety. This contrasts the English born lad, played by Fraser Crane, who expertly allows the escapism of technology to remove him from the confrontation of his brother’s funeral. An event plunged into reality when Crane finally disconnects from the digital space. A story unlike that conveyed by Ali Samaei, who beautifully comes to terms with the morality of the cultural beliefs he has been born into through the stark reality that technology forces him to confront.
Through the beautiful use of movement creating an interconnectivity to these isolated narratives, we see these alternate realities connected through the overwhelming impact digital technology. Their individual problems although differing in moral complexities were treated as equally severe, which speaks to the common inability for young people to rationalise their reality. This irrationality becomes amplified through the central platform of digital media which places representations of violence alongside cat videos, showing how social media’s ability to desensitize violence, sex and comments from insults, become an added problem that young people face today. Yet through this constant exposure, it champions a new story, of defiant youths that fight against the digital society they were forced to be in, the cultural norms it perpetrates and the pressures it imposes. This was a great piece that placed young voices at the front of the stage where they belong.
Kate, 20 (She/Her)