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Driving into Walls - Alice Bartley

"We're afraid of failure, cancer, parents, being left out. Global warming!" The music matures louder and becomes more commanding, sending shivers down the audience's bodies; only one example of a scene where statistics and issues come knocking at reality. 

Driving into Walls presents snapshots of the lives of Western Australian teenagers. Under John Sheedy's direction and Danielle Micich’s choreography, the production team challenges issues of happiness, loneliness, drug use, racism and bullying. This is done through the use of physical movement, lighting and music and statistics to create a confronting performance for every member of the audience. 

The young and talented cast of 5 – Harrison Elliot, Michael Smith, Ricki Bremner, Thalia Livingstone and Matthew Tupper – magnificently incorporate physical movement with natural dialogue and characterisation to create characters that are easy for the adolescent audience members to connect with. The actor's ability to use their bodies to create meaning of the issues is phenomenal and intriguing. By incorporating physical theatre in the performance, it creates a contemporary and different interpretation of the way teenagers feel about issues that parents can’t relate to. For a production such as this one, a young cast is essential to ensure that young audience members are able to relate to the topics discussed and also accept that what they are experiencing is normal and that they are not alone in the world. 

The choice of lighting, music and digital media was so important for this piece of expressionism theatre. The lighting and music set the mood of anticipation, fear, power, excitement and elevation from the very beginning. Digital projections began with a Facebook layout of the character's lives. Another scene, which is of Matthew Tupper on video while talking about his character’s run in with death, reminded the audience of our modern day technology. All non-actor techniques contributed to the audience's full engagement to the piece. 

"45% of us have hurt ourselves deliberately". The issues explored in Driving Into Walls are confronting and controversial, as is the play that has shocked many people. All along I kept referring back to a quote that a Barking Gecko ambassador said "it is a play that teenagers will love but their parents will hate". This came to mind when the 5 performers came together inside the clear box and began taking their clothes off and exploring the boundaries of sexual ideas. 

The performance ends with a question to the audience, "do you trust me? Do you?" They are left to wonder, if they trust the developing generation of teenagers struggling to find their identity.