X-Stacy (18 November) was commissioned by the Queensland government in response to dangerously casual attitudes to the use and risks of recreational drugs among young people. The play sketches the descent of Stacy into a world of lies, increasing reliance on illicit drugs and diminishing rationality. Her story, told in a series of flashbacks, provides the narrative spine for the play’s real concern: what happens to the people left behind when someone dies from an overdose? Margery Forde’s play is a confronting journey into a family trying to find a way forward in the face of personal tragedy. Values are challenged, friendships established, illusions destroyed and assumptions about the pursuit of happiness through drug use questioned. Biting, blunt and confronting, ultimately X-Stacy holds out the promise of hope, redemption and reconciliation.
Seventeen (19 November) by playwright Matthew Whittet focuses on the lives of six teenagers celebrating the last day of secondary school by partying all night in a local playground. As the level of alcohol consumption rises so do the issues that have been submerged in the lives of these young people. Love will go unrequited, friendships will be redefined and life will be forever changed by the events of that night. For Mike, his little sister Lizzy, Sue, Edwina, Ronnie and Tom the future seems a dangerously uncertain place; exhilarating and sad, scorching and beautiful. Each character must acknowledge their past and come to terms with their disappointments; accept the possibilities of the life before them and the potential that is encapsulated in a singular sunrise that speaks of a new world waiting to be embraced.
Based on real events in a small town in the United States, Normal (20 November) explores the link between disenfranchisement and hysteria. Poppy Williams is a healthy, highly intelligent teenager whose life is unsurprisingly defined by her friends, school, her single parent and social media. All that starts to change when Poppy develops tics and seizures that resemble the symptoms of Tourette Syndrome. Initially experiencing pity and a measure of sympathy from her friends and wider community, everything undergoes a seismic reorientation when other members of Poppy’s peer group begin to display similar symptoms. Poppy’s shift from victim to vector highlights her powerlessness at the hands of the adults who control the world around her. Katie Pollock’s play explores what it is to be ‘other’ in a community that manipulates truth to maintain a social norm that is corrupt and self-serving at its core.