The stage is a boxing ring of metal school seats. Weeds grow up in between the cracks in the concrete. Dandelions with drooping heads. They’re dying – from heat – or perhaps they’ve grown as much as they can grow. A large screen – as big as the audience pounds us with light. We – performers and audience – are dwarfed by the huge faces, mouths. Then here they are. The girls.

Sam. Kelly. Aisha – The Skanks.

We see their world – a glaring, flickering assault of sexually empowered girls. Phone and text culture. Music. Films. Excess. All laid out against a dried and tangled landscape – roads reflecting heat. Roadsides hemmed with ragged grass. This is bubbly American pop-culture fantasy in collision with dull, crisp Australian reality. Commissioned by the Q Theatre Company, Truck Stop was written by Lachlan Philpott and developed with senior students in Penrith and Mt Druitt after a story broke that year nine girls were prostituting themselves at a local Truck Stop.

Like the tattered pages of a school diary, we are flipped between places. The fight, the doctors office, school, the Westfield, the party, the truck stop. Flip-book story telling – but not consecutive, nor linear. This is a major piece of Australian writing. Philpott’s heightened poetic is not lost in the brutal everyday speech. In fact there is nothing that echoes the short snips of dialogue of texting or teenage-speak, like Philpott’s play. As a piece of playwriting it is daring, well-crafted, compelling and deeply effecting. This isn’t a piece of writing to prove a stylistic flourish – this is a remarkable piece of playwriting.

Directed by Katrina Douglas – this production runs smoothly between worlds – peppered with celebratory songs of defiance, cultural collision and reflection, social commentary, sexual and gender politics – this is not a dower, finger-wagging tut-tutting, “teenagers are terrible” sermon. Douglas has nuanced each moment with compassion and empathy. Performers Eryn Jean Norvill (Sam), Jessica Tovey (Kelly) and Kristy Best (Aisha) are bright, fizzing, dangerous and unwaivering. Supported by the kaleidoscopic talents of Elena Carapetis – who flicks between ages, genders and status with a shift of voice, or body – is utterly magnetic.

What is so compelling about this production is the familiarity of it – the place and spaces – both electronic and real – are so local. This is not an esoteric essay on how the media affects teenage identity, set in no particular place at no particular time – this is brutal in its specificity. Those places make us smile knowingly, and then choke as we swallow the story. It’s all too close to home. It’s all too real, too familiar, all too true.

Lachlan Philpott’s Truck Stop is not only a very entertaining and engaging play, but one of the most culturally important, artistically significant and socially relevent portraits of where we are, right here and now.