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Dumb Kids - KXT on Broadway (NSW)

Written by Jacob Parker. Directed by Sophia Bryant.


Reviewed by Justin Clarke

KXT on Broadway, Ultimo

June 23 - July 8


3.5 STARS


- With a script rich in conversation starters and a stellar cast, there’s enough here to show what Indie theatre does best -


Experience what Indie theatre does best with Dumb Kids. Inspired by Wedekind's Spring Awakening, Jacob Parker's script delves into the complexities of teenage sexuality and identity, infused with a touch of 80s rom-com. With a talented cast drawn from Australia's vibrant indie theatre scene, this production fearlessly challenges societal norms and captivates with its avant-garde spirit and heartfelt performances.


The story unfolds within the confines of an Australian playground, where ten Year Eleven students plan their Year Eleven Social (Y.E.S). As they navigate the awkwardness of high school relationships through a queer lens, the characters discover love, heartbreak, and the intricacies of their own identities. With echoing motifs of Ellen Degeneres - before she was problematic - and Cate Blanchett - who sits a non-queer icon - Parker’s script brings a great deal of humour through which to break down the binary walls of the world the characters exist in.


Images by Phil Erbacher


Sophia Bryant's direction elevates Parker's script, allowing each character to flourish beyond mere archetypes. Rachel Seeto's Maria grapples with her lesbian identity and explores a relationship with Oli McGavock's Lammeir, who identifies as non-binary. Fraser Crane's Gabe acts as a puppet-master and a queer idol, navigating a clandestine romance with Ryan Hodson's Harry while wrestling with his own sexuality. Katie Wilkins' Otis yearns for Mym Kwa's assertive Tanya, their chemistry bringing depth and laughter. Meanwhile, Dominique Purdue's sexually empowered Scarlett embarks on a romance with Connor Reilly's Eddie, leaving Angharad Wise's Trish feeling stranded in the friend zone. In the spotlight throughout however, Lou McInnes’ Will shines as a bright spark as they explore their new trans identity and their sexuality that comes with it.


Dumb Kids truly shines when its characters break down walls and offer sharp satirical commentary.

Bryant shows a knack at developing characters, with each of our young adolescents given the spotlight to create clear and defined arcs from start to finish. Such as McInnes who brings a groundedness to Will as they navigate their desire to be their most authentic self and with it a sharp sense of realism that is confronting at their stories’ peak. Adding niche touches of colour through Thomas Doyle’s lighting design, moments of humour are heightened when the cast become video game characters, or play out teenage fantasies on stage.


Doyle's lighting design enhances Parker's use of split scenes, effectively delineating the different spaces the characters inhabit. However, the frequent use of this technique at times disrupts the flow of dialogue during crucial moments. It occasionally prevents full immersion in crucial scenes as attention is divided among multiple storylines of the ten-strong cast. While symbolic of the chaotic nature of high school relationships, a more restrained approach could have been beneficial in the script.


Dumb Kids truly shines when its characters break down walls and offer sharp satirical commentary. Infused with undertones of a modern rom-com, the finale of the social event is a satisfying payoff for the layered relationships and intersecting plot points. With a playful script that hides deeper conversations and a stellar ensemble, Dumb Kids raises enough questions to spark important dialogue on the journey home.

 

Director Sophia Bryant with Fraser Crane, Ryan Hodson, Mym Kwa, Oli McGavock, Lou McInnes, Dominique Purdue, Connor Reilly, Rachel Seeto, Kate Wilkins, Angharad Wise

Coarse language and discussions of sex and sexual assault | recommended for ages 16 and older.


Set and Costume Design Benedict Janeczko-Taylor

Lighting Design Thomas Doyle

Sound Design Christine Pan

Stage Manager Alex Liang Movement Director Emma Van Veen

Intimacy Coordinator Steven Ljubovic

Promotional Photographer Bryan Ruiz

Production Photographer Philip Erbacher Producers Tom Hanaee, Annie Stafford, Mathew Lee

Presented by Legit Theatre Co

Run time approx 100 mins

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