(Andrew Stephens's article appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, August 10.)


A radical theatre project brings youth's brutality and fears to life, writes Andrew Stephens.

THEY push, scuffle, bite, swear their pants off and make a shocking amount of noise: 13 teenagers, all in one room. But they're gorgeous and (at times) gentle; thoughtful, and very funny. That flies in the face of the reigning cliches about adolescents being surly, monosyllabic and selfish or, in the sugar-coated version, a best friend and Mini-Me for parents.

These young people are real. Flawed, conflicted, wonderful.

Director Alexander Devriendt has been shepherding them around the world during school holidays for the past 15 months: New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, Melbourne and, soon, Sydney.

This is so that they can perform a wild piece of theatre in which all the joys, fears and fragility of teenagerhood gush out on the stage. It has had superb reviews (especially at the Edinburgh Fringe), despite having possibly the longest title in history: Once and for all we're gonna tell you who we are so shut up and listen.

One of the teens is Devriendt's 16-year-old brother Edouard; the rest are aged between 14 and 18, and they all hail from Ghent, Belgium. As the troupe mucks about, it is almost impossible to tell where natural horsing around stops and performing begins.

This is because what happens on stage reflects pretty much who these young people are. So shut up. And listen.

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