PLAYWAVE CREATIVE REVIEW: YOUTH + DESTINATION
YOUTH + DESTINATION
Reviewed by Nicole Pingon
There’s something really unique about Youth + Destination. It’s raw. It’s honest. It’s real. It doesn’t stretch reality to create a story, nor rely on super quirky characters and extravagant storylines to engage us.
Just like life, James Raggatt’s Youth + Destination is fluid, exciting and unpredictable. The collection of sixty vignettes each capture a moment in time, in someone’s life, somewhere. All varying in length, shifting from comedic to gut-wrenching - we never know what’s coming next, whose world a light will shine on, and what part of our own reality we will delve into. The only thing we’re sure of is:
Every moment is fleeting.
Naturally as humans, we’re always full of questions, but never really given any answers. Each vignette tackles a shared insecurity that comes with growing up – morality, sexuality, love, heartbreak, fear, the future, and mortality. Raggatt compiles the thoughts, conversations and concerns from our everyday lives that often don’t make it to the stage, but I know for a fact have crossed my mind at some point in time, and/or been brought up as a D&M topic amongst my friends.
That’s what I mean to be raw, honest and real.
There’s a subtlety in the language that made the moments shared on stage funny, heartfelt, and genuinely relatable - I only came to appreciate how rare that is after the show ended. It truly captures the way young people talk and navigate the mediocrity of life, to how we cope with life-altering circumstances, all told from an authentic voice that’s very clearly inspired by lived experiences.
It’s refreshing seeing regular people just living their regular lives on stage. I’m always sceptical of how the ‘youth experience’ is captured in theatre, but Youth + Destination is probably the first show ever I’ve been completely satisfied with their representation of being young.
I suppose that proves that stories about being young should be told by those who are young.
Both Raggatt’s writing and direction is purposefully ambiguous, very subtly implying context, while giving audiences no names, no history, no location – the specifics we often rely on to create empathy. For me, it was this lack of specificity that made this piece so intriguing and unique.
I love that this show actually allowed me to think for myself. Raggatt invites his audience to be a part of the shared conversation and have a voice in the story. There is room for us to fill in the ambiguous details with our personal history, values and understanding of the world, to create our own meaning.
We aren't told much about who these characters are, but the thing is, we don’t need to be told, because we already familiar with them. This piece isn’t just about fictional characters in a play, it’s a really honest reflection of us living out our everyday lives. It tells the story of people we know. People we love. Feeling the feels we are all too familiar with. Experiencing the situations we dread most. Navigating a world we like to believe we understand.
All ten actors should be commended for their performances, because often it’s hardest to act without specific character frameworks. The actors fluently transform between personas, and drive this piece with raw realism, making it a truly immersive experience.
The intimate KXT morphed into various settings, assisted by Martin Kinnane’s impeccable lighting design, and Kyle Jonsson’s economical set, cleverly utilising the flashing Coca-Cola sign and bustle of Kings Cross outside the KXT window, which for the record is really aesthetically pleasing, but more importantly a powerful reminder of how connected this show is to our city; and our reality.
Raggatt’s own experiences, feelings, fears and insecurities live and breathe within Youth + Destination, but I couldn’t help seeing so much of myself, and the world as I know it captured on stage. In fact, I’m sure a bit of everyone’s experiences exist within this piece.
None of us are the same, so obviously everyone will have a uniquely individual experience, and leave the theatre feeling slightly different towards the show. It’s abstract enough to gain personal responses, and if that isn’t a sign of great art, I honestly don’t know what is.
But young person to young person, I can say this piece really resonated with me.
Youth + Destination takes us into the lives of many, at different points in their lives, often disparate in tone, and subject matter. Yet this piece is so well thought out, with all the vignettes intertwined on deep level, humbly reminding us to recognise just how everything is holistic. Perhaps we aren’t that different after all.
We’re as lost and confused as each other. A bunch of humans trying to navigate and make sense of this place we call home, where a lot doesn’t make sense, and things often don’t go our way. Sometimes it really sucks, but when we allow ourselves to acknowledge the joys in life, we’re reminded of how lucky to be a part of this world.
Youth + Destination essentially takes everything we traditionally understand about what makes good theatre, and twists it into something new – and in my opinion; something better. It’s an incredible writing and directorial debut for James Raggatt, and excites me to see what’s to come - for all the creatives involved, young people everywhere, and new-Australian theatre (thank you KXT bAKEHOUSE for another inspiring show!).
It’s a production I want to drag all my friends to, and show them: this is what good theatre is. In so many ways, I feel like Youth + Destination included me, telling a part of my story in ways I didn’t expect. It’s something I’m invigorated by, feel lucky to have witnessed, and frankly hope to see more of on our stages.
YOUTH + DESTINATION
27 April - 12 May
Kings Cross Hotel