The word “drag” has connotations of a difficult journey, often being moved somewhere against one’s will. In Dragged that somewhere is Stella’s memories. Having collapsed in an anonymous green room, Stella finds herself thinking back to what should be a happier time of teenage boy antics, but what plays out in front of her is more treacherous.
There are small moments of happiness – a burgeoning affection between the Boy and his best friend, Simon. While Simon has little problem declaring himself gay, the Boy isn’t so fortunate, a realisation not made any easier living with an alcoholic mother and a distant and violent father.
An interesting aspect of writer Andy Aisbett’s script is that while the Boy is sickened by his parent’s flaws and failures, from the first scene it’s obvious he’s repeated all of them. Nothing is mentioned explicitly – it’s one of the few cases where the text does the lovely job of showing and not telling.
However, for the most part, Dragged wears its themes on its sleeve, characters often explaining exactly how they’re feeling with little subtext from any of them. The performances – particularly Louis Corbett playing the Boy and Dean Robinson playing Simon – lift Andy’s script nicely from page to stage.
Already lamenting the lack of depth, the Fourth Wall-breaking monologue where one of the frenzied chorus address the audience felt out of place, labouring its Fisher Price point about the importance of love when a bunch of those words could have been folded into the Boy’s touching final scene with Simon.
Resisting a more saccharine ending where Stella’s trip down memory lane sparks declarations of sobriety and empathy, was an appreciated touch. Held together by a musical duo, criminally uncredited (although mentioned in the playwright’s notes?), Dragged was fine example of how our pasts have a long reach and will always keep us in its grasp.
La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton
Performance: Friday 26 January 2018 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 4 February 2018
Information and Bookings: www.lamama.com.au
Image: Dragged – photo by James Raftellis
Review: David Collins