Elbow Room PrehistoricWhen you enter the space for Prehistoric, the first thing you notice is the staging. The seats are arranged in a way that gives the impression that the show is cornered by the audience.

It’s a lovely touch that quickly reinforces the remarkable work the actors do in placing the show in the rough heart of the Brisbane punk scene of later 70s, when Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s state government and police force were committing gross abuses of power; when the only response from some was to fight political and physical violence with aural violence.

The characters we’re introduced to have their own source of rage, yet together as a band find a common way to express it: Grace Cummings on lead vocals as Rachel, Zachary Pidd on drums as Pete, Sahil Saluja on bass as Nick, and Brigid Gallacher on lead guitar as Deb – this was a cast literally and figuratively making beautiful music together. They had great chemistry, each giving a wonderful performance throughout.

There’s a visceral feel that imbues every scene, which makes for terrific, compelling theatre. Set is shuffled about, off-stage is either a long walk away or just somewhere in the shadows – the seams are showing and it’s perfect. Even more than the moments of direct address, the fourth wall was never torn down as gloriously as it is whenever the actors pick up their instruments to turn out some beautiful sonic brutality.

And yet despite our cheers after each number, we – the audience – are passive, not participants. Indeed, the idea of resistance and being active is something spoken to by the actors near the end. Injustice still persists – in a multitude of forms and in abundance. So what’s changed in 40 years?

For a show that ran not much over an hour, there’s a lot of theme and heft inside. It’s a credit to Marcel Dorney’s writing, Emily Tomlin’s dramaturgy, and this awesome cast and crew that it tells as good a story as it does. Terrifying in moments, moving, hilarious, LOUD – Prehistoric has many qualities, including without hesitation, “Must-see.”

The Stables – Meat Market, 1 Wreckyn Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 21 July 2018 – 5.00pm
Season continues to 27 July 2018
Information and Bookings:

Image: Brigid Gallacher, Zachary Giles Pidd, Grace Cummings and Sahil Saluja feature in Prehistoric – photo by Yunis Tmeizeh

Review: David Collins