Mary Anne Butler’s CUSP, commissioned by the Australian Theatre For Young People (ATYP), captures three young people on the cusp of adulthood, whose lives are at a crossroad. The play is set in different locations in the Northern Territory.
Rosie an indigenous seventeen year old, has received her Higher School Certificate results and they are better than expected. She has been declared Dux of her school, and her mark has meant that she can do medicine at Sydney University. She is excited about the prospect of ‘training’ to be a Doctor and taking her skills back home to the Northern Territory once she has completed her studies..
On the other hand she is very anxious about leaving her much loved home town of Yirrkala. She feels so comfortable in the local community and loves how the town is so near to the ocean. It will be a huge challenge for her to settle and study in Sydney, a big city she is not particularly keen on. What will Rosie decide to do?!
Rosie’s on and off boyfriend Elvis is not happy that she is thinking of moving down south. He is used to her being around and spending a lot of time with her. This won’t be possible if she moves away. He loves the NorthernTerritory and won’t move. They have an argument and Elvis lets off some steam.
One of Elvis’s big issues is anger which he sometimes isn’t able to control. It is something that Rosie is wary of. That and the way he is constantly in trouble with the law and ends up in prison. His big challenge is whether he can ever break the pattern. He promises Rosie that he will do some anger management courses but will he actually do them?! Elvis is a strapping lad with so much energy to burn. Will he be able to turn his life around?
Maddie is a sweet, sensitive sixteen years old girl who has suddenly become a woman. She falls for a guy called Conner who happens to be Elvis’s brother. They have great sex and Maddie falls pregnant. She is conflicted, will she keep the baby or not?! Maddie tells Conner that she’s pregnant and Conner is initially positive but in the end can’t handle the prospect of being a father so young. With her soft nature the question is will Maddie be able to cope with being a mother alone, and will she be able to make a life for herself in a tough world?
Mary Anne Butler’s play is was well structured and the dialogue is strong. There are some great lines including the thematic : “we all have choices to make, just some people get better choices to choose from.”
Fraser Corfield’s direction is clear and assured and he wins good performances from his cast.
Nyasha Ogden’s performance as the optimistic, positive, thoughtful Rosie is well measured and always engaging. A highlight was her karaoke version of ‘House Of The Rising Son’ when she and Elvis visit the Arnhem Club in Nhulunbuy.
Josh McElroy gives a forceful, always engaging performance as the unpredictable, volatile Elvis.
Stevie Jean gives, for me, the performance of the night in a.wonderfully natural performance as the sweet natured Maddie who tries to ‘hold on’ with the help of Elvis, her partner Conner’s brother.
Production values are good.. Cj Fraser-Bell’s sparse set design works well. Jessie Davis’ lighting design is particularly impressive.
This is a good, fast moving night at the theatre. Mary Anne Butler’s CUSP is playing the Stables Theatre until Saturday 28th March, 2020.
Featured image : John McElroy and Nyasha Ogden in ‘Cusp’ at the Stables Theatre. Pic Tracey Schramm.
The performances are good.
Very natural performer Maddie
The karaoke by Rosie
The scene where he bashes a man who harasses Rosie…
This was a poignant rendition of life for three young people in the Top End. It focuses on three characters. Elvis wants Rosie. Rosie wants to escape. Maddie doesn’t know what the hell she wants, but it sure isn’t this. While Rosie weighs up the needs of community with her own dreams.