All Good Things is the final installment of ATYP’s The Voices Project, where a series of monologues for seventeen year olds – all by young people – are presented under the wharf. The monologues are shaped into a cohesive theatre piece by director Iain Sinclair, who lets some monologues interrupt others, building the tension of each character’s lived experience a little further, letting them settle in our minds as fully realised people even with only seven minutes or so between them to grab the spotlight.
Fittingly, for a final installment, there’s a sense of departure in each monologue. A farewell to the world, to an old identity, to a loved one. Seventeen is a notorious time for change and this production captures the helplessness and sincere struggle of moving from a life known to one wholly yet to be discovered.
One – Rachel O’Regan’s Red Bull – is a dark comedy about exam stress that turns surprisingly confronting. Another – Gemma Neal’s Nice – is an examination of relationship inequality, the imbalance of power between a controlling boyfriend and a younger girlfriend, and it’s searingly political in its willingness to examine its subject unflinchingly.
We hear about queer love stories, violence, regret, death. All at once, thanks to Sinclair’s structure and sensitive, emotional direction, seventeen feels like our own ages, like the only age, like the cusp of the world.
The two standout monologues catalogue entirely different experiences in seeking out a way to live in the world: CJ McLean’s Changing Room, and Kirby Medway’s The Fuzz.
McLean’s piece, compelling in the hands of Moreblessing Maturure, is a relentless study of gender identity and performance, a story that spirals out from a clothing store shoplift. Maturure is wilful and McLean’s words are poignant; they are a good match for each other.
The Fuzz is nothing like Changing Room, nor is it like any of the other monologues. Medway’s monologue has a charmingly self-deprecating voice and his writing is surprisingly witty. Jon Thompson is a great match for the comic piece, gripped with adolescent insecurity about his masculinity, coveting a beard so much that he’ll go to ridiculous lengths to try to obtain one, and with it, that ever-elusive social capital.
It’s a sad thing to see The Voices Project go – it’s a welcome showcase for young writers and their first attempts to speak to their peers, their city, and their country. Young writers are more important to the theatrical landscape than they are sometimes given credit for (they are its future) and with this annual exercise there was always a sense of reassurance and relief – that we’re still going forward, that young people are still able to be heard. ATYP by design will continue to support and give space for young writers to stage work, but I’ll miss this showcase. It’s been wonderful getting to know the people whose works I hope to be seeing for many years to come.