A teenage party goes terribly wrong in BLACKROCK. Pic Samantha Cunningham
A teenage party goes terribly wrong in BLACKROCK. Pic Samantha Cunningham

Northside’s Epicentre Theatre Company is currently running a revival of BLACKROCK (1995), one of the strongest plays in the late, great Australian playwright Nick Enright’s body of work.

I was privileged to see David Berthold’s striking original production for the Sydney Theatre Company back in August 1995 with a marvelous cast including Simon Lyndon as Jared and Joel Edgerton as Toby. Whilst on a much smaller scale, the Epicentre Theatre Company’s current revival  is an impressive one.

Enright play was based on real life events, the horrific rape and murder of a 14 year old Stockton (a suburb near Newcastle) girl, Leigh Leigh that took place during teenage birthday party celebrations at and around the Stockton Surf Club on the 3rd November, 1989. For his play the playwright changed the setting to the fictional surfing town of Blackrock and the name of the murdered teenage girl is Tracy.

Much like a long dry period makes it much more likely that there will be bad bush fires during an Australian summer, a lot of stresses and inequities were in place in Blackrock that made it an unhealthy place to live in, with an environment that would be conducive to sinister events taking place.

Enright depicts a town with….plenty of single mothers, abandoned by their partners, struggling to eke out existences…bored, rebellious teenagers always wanting to party…some unhealthy attitudes going around including the  belief that young men had that they owned their women, and a belief, held by everyone, that one kept one’s feelings to oneself.

Epicentre’s current production, co-directed by Tristan Carey and Samantha Cunningham, serves Enright’s incisive play well. What comes across is everyone’s belief in this strong play and a desire to make it ‘stick’.

The creative team set the scene well for the large cast. Gina Rose Drew’s two tiered set, including a ‘balcony’ level, is strewn with surfboards….The beach setting is captured well with a clear design- a bank of sand, beach posts, and a public bench. Matt Osborn’s sound and lighting design is effective, especially the constant refrain of the sound of the sea.

A talented cast bring Enright’s characters vividly to life. In the central roles, Simon Croker played Jared, Maryellen George was his girlfiend, Rachel, Adrian Espulso played Ricko, Daniel Csutkai was Toby, and Donna Sizer played Toby’s beleaguered mother, Diane.

Recommended, the current Epicentre Theatre Company production only has a few more performances to run. The show only has a few more performances to go, playing nightly at 8pm at the O’Kelly’s theatre within Nick Enright’s old high school, St Ignatius College, Riverview. For bookings –