Sunday 22 July 2018

Prehistoric review

Brisbane's punk music scene vividly comes to life in a return season of Elbow Room's critically acclaimed Prehistoric. Set against the backdrop of the corrupt Bjelke-Petersen government in 1979, Prehistoric is more than just a play about four young people coming together to create a punk band. It's a rousing production about having the freedom to make our own choices and fighting to ensure that everyone can feel safe in their own community. 

The performances by Brigid Gallacher, Grace Cummings, Sahil Saluja, and Zachary Giles Pidd are electric, as they deliver sharply authentic portrayals of Deb, Rachel, Nick and Pete. They convey their vulnerabilities and angsts while simultaneously showing the resilience and rage that is boiling inside them. The four work exceptionally well as an ensemble and in their individual scenes, creating some deeply affecting moments.

As Rachel, Cummings' late-night interaction with two police officers is gripping to watch as it slowly unfolds with the lighting design by Kris Chainey extremely effective in putting the audience right in the middle of the scene. This is repeated to similar impact during Pidd's character’s brutal police confrontation, where the audience is made to endure the intimidation and fear that Pete is experiencing. 

Prehistoric might have premiered in 2014 and be set in 1979, but the show is anything but dated, with Marcel Dorney's having written a refreshingly fierce script. Despite the numerous locations that the story takes place in, the strength of the writing ensures that everything we are told can be clearly visualised in our minds. The changes in storytelling delivery intelligently capture the urgency and impatience that flows within the characters and the work. 

Dorney seamlessly blends the brutality of the Bjelke-Petersen government - which encouraged police strong-arm tactics and severely restricted civil liberties to the point where street marches were banned in 1978 - with the stories of these frustrated youths, and despite the odds being stacked against them, their hope and resilience grows stronger. 

Prehistoric is an incredibly powerful reminder of the potential that music can have in uniting people and what it can feel like to stand up for what you believe in. With only four performances left before the band flies out to Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this is one gig you don’t want to miss.

Venue: Meat Market, 1 Wreckyn St, North Melbourne
Season: until 27 July | Tues - Fri 7:30pm
Tickets: $30 Adult | $25 Concession
Bookings: Elbow Room

Photo Credit: Yunis Tmeizeh 

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