I saw this play a couple of months back...started my blog on it but never got down to finishing it, till now.
It is inspired by a real life incident. In 1994 two Melbourne teenagers in a dangerous rush of teenage rebellion were kicking stones off a freeway overpass. One of the stones smashed the windshield of a passing car and killed the driver.
This play starts with the playful exuberance of the 2 kids aptly referred to as Yahoo and Shy boy. Yahoo, the leader of the two always eggs on his shy friend challenging him to do several tasks, which not always the shy one is confident of doing or wants to do, especially the climbing on the top of ladder. He is shown to be aggressive with a swagger, more like a street tough in the making. The Shy Boy is more of a childish prankster and a reluctant follower who always lets himself to be prodded on by Yahoo. It's he who is guilt-stricken after the crash and confesses to his mother who takes him to the police. A trial follows and the trauma the Shy Boy goes through was very well enacted.
It was a brilliant play which left one thinking for a long time. The best thing about the play was that after it finished the actors had a q&a/comments session with audience.
They asked their first question, would you give the 2 boys a guilty or not guilty and one could feel the dilemma that each one of us felt while answering that question.
There were several other best things about the play...
The sets were minimal, no elaborate props. There are only 2 artists who did a role play. They play the two boys and with a simple change of shirt by one and police cap by the other they change to the 2 detectives investigating the play. And this is done so well. They just walk backwards on the stage itself for a few steps and return as the new avatar.
They conjure everything out of thin air, with their guitars and bodies adding a range of witty sound effects, from the sound of the stones going smashing down on the freeway to the trailing echoes of a sewer.
As adult interrogators, the men are merciless but at the same time the one interrogating the Shy Boy also seems to want to help the boy. In one scene they are shown trying to empathize with the boys, asking the question – what if their own child was involved? They seem unsettled and confused in what they really think and want – guilty or not guilty?
The one question that was on everyone’s mind was what finally happened to the boys? Not surprisingly, they had a hung jury and then a second trial was held. At the end of the trial, all felt that the trauma faced by the children was punishment enough and they were acquitted. However, where the boys are now or what they are doing is not known. The names of the boys were kept hidden from the media and the theater group, in order to respect the privacy of the children. Which is where the media in India can learn a lot – respect what should be digged up and what should not be.
It seems that the wife of the driver who was killed was invited to watch the play. She came but left half way without any comments.
As is very rightly said - the play has no easy answers but it dares to ask some big questions.