Riot is a challenging piece of theatre that details the inner workings of individuals that find themselves on the edge of both reason and of self-destruction. The team behind this work should be commended for bringing such a thought provoking and all together uncomfortable work to Melbourne audiences.
It builds towards an event that never materializes into being, though the script gives tension and dramatic shifts in spades. It’s the constant sense of unease and tension found within that makes Riot such a brilliant piece of theatre.
Perhaps with Riot being a work not so much about a physical event, it is however about the underlying sense of unease or unrest felt by each of the characters. These subtexts slowly erode at both the individual and collective until the vicious truth that this performance centres around gives out and is exposed.
The story lines are each in their own way troublesome. Centring on such themes as power play, deceit, prejudice and addiction, while physical interactions between all characters adds a dichotomy to work from, provided from some pretty steamy scenes.
With full nudity used in Riot, it was clearly not a gimmick but a risk taken that has fortunately payed off, giving this production much of its raw gritty edge. With these sorts of dark subjects being explored it must be noted that Riot did offer up moments that where light hearted and funny, though perhaps at times not politically correct, it still had audiences laughing, providing light to the dark.
Much of the success behind Riot is in the way it worked with subtle nuances and current topics that are very much at the heart of contemporary Australian culture and identity, touching upon the growing sense of unrest with our government and large corporations, weaving into the script these sort of events really aided in traversing the third wall.
Lighting design is simple, using such devices as fluorescent lighting to offer dramatic shifts between place and time. Direction given by Gabrielle Savrone is exceptional, with each member of the ensemble giving it their all, each taking to their individuals characters with much bravado. The connection felt with each of them is evident from the outset and only aided in further creating a sense of realism and an underlying sense of drama.
This is a contemporary story told in a classic sense, strong story line, great direction and believable characters. Certainly not for the fainthearted, and most certainly not family viewing. This is an adult’s only production, and a great night out for those who want theatre that one can sink their teeth into.
Riot is dark, foreboding and altogether unsettling work, cutting through the hype, delivering an experience that stays with you long after the lights go up.
Director: Gabrielle Savrone Cast: Jenifer B Ashley, Caitlin Berwick, Johnathan Peck, Gareth Trew, Stephanie Valenzuela Writer: Thomas Ian Doyle
The Owl and Cat Theatre, 34 Swan Street, Richmond
Season continues to 13 June 2015
Information and bookings: www.owlandcat.com.au