A humane look at inhumanity

Issue 

A humane look at inhumanitBlackrock
Written by Nick Enright
Performed by the Sydney Theatre Company
The Wharf, Sydney
Until October 14
Reviewed by Lisa Macdonald
One summer night at a party on Blackrock beach, a 15-year-old women is brutally raped and murdered. For the people of Blackrock — the friends of the victim, the parents, the young men involved and their mates — this horrific event changes their lives as they confront and attempt to deal with their feelings of anger, guilt, sorrow and fear.
Blackrock is the latest play from acclaimed Australian writer Nick Enright. Performed by the Sydney Theatre Company, the play features a wonderful cast including Rebecca Smart, Kym Wilson, Angela Punch McGregor, Paul Bishop and Julie Godfrey.
Blackrock is not light entertainment, or an easy play to watch. It deals with an ugly and traumatic subject. But it does so in a thoughtful and sensitive way, acknowledging the brutal reality of violence against women as an everyday phenomena without resorting to long soliloquies about sexism and women's oppression. This is achieved through a sharp and clever script. With a minimum of words, Enright makes you think, laugh and cry, often all at once.
The characters in Blackrock are stunningly real — full of all the contradictions of people attempting to survive and be whole in an alienating and isolating society.
The young men are so much the victims of machismo and "mateship" that you find yourself laughing at the absurdity of it all — that is until the naked sexism and cruelty of their behaviour takes your breath away in the next scene.
The young women in this play — the murderer's girlfriend (the local "mole"), the victim's best friend who desperately wants to be a surfie despite the fact that she's "only a girl", and the younger sister of one of the rapists who's anger develops into an emerging feminist consciousness in a community which just doesn't want to know — are the strongest characters. Their voices convey the politics of Blackrock — a politics which says that "no means no", regardless of how women dress and act, where they go or with whom.
Blackrock takes its audience through a myriad of positive and negative emotions. While a large part of the play provokes intense feelings of anger, in the end, the fact that it is a profoundly humane treatment of an inhumane subject leaves you feeling hopeful and stronger. Blackrock doesn't just tell an important story, it is also good entertainment and well worth seeing.

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