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Generic YA Dystopia - UWA Pantomime Society

Reviewed by Kate O'Sullivan


Sometimes you need a show that references the tropes, makes you laugh and takes you on a wild ride. The UWA Pantomime Society has created just that, with every possible reference to young-adult fiction in their current show Generic YA Dystopia.

If you are looking for a traditional pantomime, you won't find it here. Gone are the Panto Dame, Principal Boy and "He's Behind You" call-and-response you might expect. In its place is a show full of genre crossovers and modern references as we follow the "not like other" main characters through a quest back to their own stories. It is a complicated story with lots of crossing over of plot lines and characters, which does make it difficult to follow at times, but you can feel the reverence that the writers and cast have for this genre of novels and films. This reverence does feel like it gets in the way at times (I lost count of the different references in the show), and may have been helped by tightening up some of the scenes and the reinforcement of archetypical charters rather than specific direct references.

With only a short run, it can be really difficult when a cast loses a main actor to illness, as occurred on opening night. In the case of this show, it wasn't apparent as all the actors covering other roles rose to the occasion, and the rest of the cast helped cover anything that might have been dropped such that the audience wouldn't have known the difference. The leading cast did a solid job of giving us the stereotypes from young-adult fiction, especially those from the initial Dystopian realm we started the show in. Audience favourites were Love Interest #1 and #2, portrayed by Elizabeth Hamilton and Sarah-Beth Aldridge, with excellent synchronised lines and good body mimicry, as well as the semi-hapless intern Alex (Lucy Pearce) who, once introduced, was a great foil to the 'characters'. There were moments where it would have been nice to have a little more connection between the actors (there was a lot of acting straight-on to the audience and a lot of straight lines of actors across the front of the wide Dolphin stage), and there were moments where the performers seemed to get derailed by the audience heckles, but this could also have been to do with opening night nerves.

From a technical standpoint, this show isn't anything particularly special, but it also doesn't seek to be. The set gave good delineation of locations, especially as we traversed realms. The use of the mid-stage curtain to aid scene changes was a good choice, but it did cause some scene changes to run a little long - something that may improve in later shows. The lighting is simple - with good use of spotlighting at times. There were moments when we lost actors' heads due to the angle of some of the lights and the action taking place very close to the front of the stage, and a couple of moments where actors either didn't hit their mark or the light was slightly maligned, but nothing that greatly impacted the flow of the show. The soundscape gave a nice atmosphere but was a touch distracting at times. Adding some music to cover scene changes and during bows would also have added to the flow of the show.

All in all, this show is a light-hearted and parody-driven romp through young-adult fiction, performed by people who love the genre. What more can you ask for?

Isabella Di Giovanni (El), Bella Alexander (Supernova Metalrose), Elizabeth Hamilton (Love Interest #1), Sarah-Beth Aldridge (Love Interest #2) and Artimis Lockyer (Meg)

Reviewer Note: Kate was a member of and performed with the UWA Pantomime Society from 2007-2009, and was an employee of Unversity Theatres. Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company


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