The Adelaide Festival is generally considered to be the older and more sophisticated sibling of the Fringe Festival, but this year it has tapped into its inner teenager with a trilogy of works by the renowned Windmill Theatre.
The multi-award-winning School Dance, which premiered at the Festival in 2012, is one of the three pieces and tackles the awkward theme of fitting in as a teenager.
It’s the story of three hormonal boys – Matt, Luke and Jonathan – who are about to go to their school dance. The boys are painfully shy and desperate for a meaningful connection with other people. Their awkwardness immediately resonates with the audience members, who recognise their own difficult years in the characters.
The show takes an unexpected turn when Matt’s crush ignores him and acts as if he doesn’t exist; his self-esteem takes such a beating that he turns invisible. Jonathan and Luke realise they must work together and enlist the help of others to make Matt confront his fears and bring him back to reality.
The feeling of being an awkward outsider is one to which almost everyone can relate. Watching the “losers” mumble and fumble their way through their night at the dance invokes feelings of both sadness and hilarity. However, as the show goes on, you will find yourself cheering for the boys as they come of age before your eyes.
There are also plenty of weird moments in this production which will have the teens in the audience screeching with laughter.
A packed audience of teenagers and families attended the opening night of School Dance, and while the show comes with a warning of depictions of violence and coarse language, both are presented in ways which enhance the show.
School Dance has a strong moral centre and gently pushes the message of self-acceptance and kindness. It’s a fantastic reminder to look out for your friends in a world full of real and cyber bullying.
School Dance is being presented at the Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, until March 16. The season for Windmill Theatre’s The Fugitive is now finished, but the latest work in the trilogy, Girl Asleep, is playing again at the Space Theatre on March 15.
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Click here for InDaily’s stories and reviews from the 2014 Adelaide Festival, including WOMADelaide and Adelaide Writers’ Week.