As a long time fan and follower of Lachlan Philpott’s writing – yes let me list them for you – Catapult, Colder, Bison, Bustown this is perhaps one of the most anticipated productions noted in my diary. Directed by Lee Lewis Associate Director/Literary Advisor of the Griffin Theatre, Silent Disco is the 2009 Griffin Award-winning play and makes it’s debut at the Stables. It’s exciting to see a company dedicate not only an award, but the truly rewarding exciting prize of production to Australian playwrights. I’ve always said, if its worth an award it’s worth a production.

A chain link fence. The city skyline traced in plastic cups. Shall we begin?

The blurb goes like this:

Tamara and Jasyn are in love. Tamara is too young, too old, but just enough trouble. Jasyn lives with Aunty and his brother Dane is in prison for dealing. Jasyn wants to take Tamara to the formal, but he hasn’t got the cash. In a world of absent mothers and missing fathers, Mrs Petchell battles to keep another year of students out of the ranks of the vanished. The Outsiders in on the syllabus again, but instead of Socs and Greasers, this is the world of Speds and Bitches – fueled by Red Bull and powered by iPods.

A domestic drama with a mighty poetic punch, Silent Disco throbs with urgency. Young, wired, eating junk and getting drunk. Tamara and Jasyn are as real and as realised in voice, tone, action as any teenager scuffing their shoes on an inner city platform. This isn’t highbrow abstract art writing. Though in the hands of a lesser director, this could become a lofty epic poem recited by well-schooled actors. Instead there is an easy, a languid reveal of language. Teenagers with staccato throw away lines. These are the overly aware, constantly connected, easily bored, sometimes aggressive, hormone fueled, ignored and sexually impatient young people.

This is a beautiful production and Lewis has reigned in the shifting place and the punchy language to perfection. Sound design by Stefan Gregory haunts and drives, lighting by Ross Graham is surprising and offers audience a moment of luminescent awe. Design by Justin Nardella is inventive and iconic – simple. In a play so heavy in text, Lewis has balances this with not over-doing design. She allows the characters to speak – the writing to be the loudest thing on the stage. And the performances are strong. I suspect some of the older guard may not like very naturalistic acting – but for me, it grounds the character in a reality I accept, even if the language is heightened…

Sophie Henesser is frighteningly familiar as Tamara. Meyne Wyatt perfectly present as Jasyn (Squid) Donovan. Both of them supported by a carousel of characters played by Camilla Ah Kin and Kirk Page.

The story itself is familiar… and edges toward a known territory – but it’s not the plot that carries us through – it’s the language. It’s the characters – the world of the teenage girl who has romantic notions -who self sabotages. The teenage boy not quite managing to express himself, but doing his best. Most importantly this is a portrait of contemporary, inner-city Australians. A portrait of young people that begs us to ask the question who is responsible for their safety, welfare and development, if the parents can’t be? It is a stunning, gritty, sometimes confronting portrait of young love, young choices – choices that come out of situations not necessarily of their making or design.

Teenagers. I watch them. Don’t we all? White wires shut out the noise of the outside world. I am not one of them. I don’t have an iPod. There’s a soundtrack going on that only they hear. Wired.

Walking through The Cross on my way home from the theatre I’m aware of how nothing really changes – young people want love, feel love, feel lust and desire, feel betrayed by those they love or who are supposed to love them and we know this because we were all teenagers once. And sometimes it’s important to be reminded of that. Especially before you catch public transport, anywhere.

“Tits out, pants down/ Overnight to London / Touch down, look around /Everyone’s the same /World wide, air tight
No one’s got a face left to blame/ And all we get is… Dead disco, Dead funk, Dead rock and roll Remodel/ Everything has been done/ La la la la la la la la la la…”