Ryan Hodson and Conor Leach in Fourteen photo by Joel DevereuxShake & Stir Theatre Company can always be relied upon for its impressively mounted and performed productions. Fourteen will certainly rank among its best and most provocative.

Based on a best-selling memoir by Shannon Molloy, Fourteen tells the true story of a year of self-discovery for an effeminate year 9 student attending an all-boys school in the quiet Queensland beach community of Yeppoon.

The audience is introduced to Shannon on his wedding day in 2019, but how he got to this happy place is not the concern of the play. Rather its focus is on events that occurred 20 years earlier, when being different was a much harder path.

Shannon’s story is no romantic romcom, but neither is it dark tragedy. Many of the elements are familiar, but it is how Director Nick Skubij and his team of creatives at Shake & Stir tell this story that makes this production memorable.

Josh McIntosh’s versatile two-story setting successfully captures the ambiance of a small Queensland town. With its central revolve, wheeled staircases, furniture and dropdowns, it transforms easily into an endless variety of locales.

Colourful lighting design by Trent Suidgeest, a pumping 90’s soundtrack by Guy Webster, and delightful choreographic contributions by Dan Venz, provide an optimistic atmosphere to counter the shock of coarse language, a brutal bashing and self-harm scenes.

When the play finishes it comes as a shock to discover that all the characters who inhabit Shannon’s world are portrayed by just seven extraordinary actors whose lightning fast costume changes are enabled by witty costumes designed by Fabian Holford.

Only Conor Leach plays a single role, and he captivates with his cleverly nuanced portrayal of the resilient young Shannon Molloy struggling against forces which try to deny him the right to be the person he knows he really is. .

Everyone else in Shannon’s life is played by Leon Cain, Karen Crone, Judy Hainsworth, Ryan Hodson, Amy Ingram and Steven Rooke who between them create a whole town-full of kooky, warm-hearted, brutal, funny, thoroughly entertaining and believable characters with whom to  laugh, empathise and even shed a tear.

In telling his story, which is far from unique, Shannon Molloy has created a remarkable play which shines a spotlight on an all-too common situation. Shake & Stir has turned his play into a memorable production which happily will be seen widely during this tour. Don’t miss your chance to experience it.

The Playhouse – Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic Square, Canberra
Performance: Thursday 9 May 2024
Season continues to 11 May 2024

Following the Canberra season, Fourteen will play in selected venues across Australia. For more information and touring schedule, visit: for details.

Image: Ryan Hodson and Conor Leach stars in Fourteen – photo by Joel Devereux

Review: Bill Stephens OAM