It’s been months since they’ve spoken but when Caitlin sends Oscar a text, he comes running.
Well he might: “Oscar. Wanna fuck? Maluka Park.”
So begins Emily Sheehan’s Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award-winning Hell’s Canyon.
Kinda grabby, isn’t it?
Caitlin (played by Freya Patience) is 17, truanting from school and sporting an ouchy-fresh tattoo on her thigh and a severe gash above the knee.
Oscar (Benjamin Nichol) is a couple of years younger than Caitlin and a bit of a loner. They’ve been friends for years but more recently they’ve been bound in grief over the death of someone close to both of them.
Sex in the park, by the way, is out of the question. Instead, Oscar proposes they go all out and blow $15 on Maccas. Failing that, KFC.
Caitlin has a better idea: “Let’s do something crazy … something totally mental. Something big. Something way beyond what anyone ever reckoned we could.”
They don’t make much of a splash in the end. They wind up in a cheap motel room and spend most of the time bickering. But as Sheehan slow-drips information, we come to understand what Caitlin is really running from.
Hell’s Canyon mightn’t break much new ground in its depiction of youthful frustrations and fears but Sheehan suffuses the scenario with enjoyably snarky dialogue that her cast is very adept at delivering. A simple brick wall set (Tyler Ray Hawkins) converts from toilet block to seedy motel room with the insertion of a mattress. Martin Kinanne’s lighting turns on the visual magic with a dash of ultra violet.
For YA audiences in particular, this is a sharp and appealing play.
Tickets: $15. Rent on-demand. Once purchased, your video pass is valid for 24 hours.
Vimeo link: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/