The Resistance ★★★★

Written by Kip Chapman. Australian Premiere. Australian Theatre for Young People. Rebel Wilson Theatre. 16 Feb – 11 Mar, 2023.

Plays about the climate crisis have tended to be didactic and dull so far. It’s hard to make drama about a slow-moving disaster coming our way. The Resistance at ATYP turns focus onto the youth movement fighting to drive awareness and change the world they have to live in, and manages to create a rambunctious comedy that gets the crowd cheering.

A motley crew of young activists (and one adult) have arranged a climate rally to coincide with the arrival of a Gerta Thumberg-style superstar, Eva Lawson. Bundilla (Lakesha Grant) wants a revolution, prepared to physically fight for justice if she has to. Miro (Jack Walton) is their uptight tech nerd surrounded by girls. Marlee (Diya Goswami) is sweet, caring and a bit disorganised. And Pepper (Thea Sholl) just wants to blow something up, nothing big of course. But when Eva’s visa is delayed, they need someone to front the group and speak to the press. It falls to the meek Marlee to be the new face of the climate resistance. Can one girl rally a nation to change?  

The Resistance is an interactive show. The thought of interactive shows generally drives my personal, introverted anxiety sky high, but in one of the production’s best moves they spend a lot of time preparing the audience and making sure everyone is feeling secure and in the mood for a good time. Volunteers are brought on stage to fill the crowd and take on some key roles, to great comedic effect (one volunteer is drafted as a make-up artist). The cast are fantastic at looking after their nervous amateur co-stars while also delivering their own roles. Don’t worry, you’re not going to be dragged out of your seat without your consent! You may be asked to make animal noises though.

Writer/director Kip Chapman knows how to pitch a show at precisely the right level. This is ATYP after all, and the show has a definite youth focus, without talking down to anyone. Adult audiences, just after a good show, will still get their money’s worth from the experience.

And this cast is dynamite. I was going to refer to one as a ‘scene-stealer’ before realising I was about to write that for each of them in turn. So it’s less ‘scene-stealing’ and more ‘making the most of the great script’. I was awed by how these young performers not only produced great characters but also created a warm, welcoming vibe for the whole auditorium. They are all lovable. From Pepper’s crazy security squad, to Bundilla’s power jacket and Marlee’s nascent stubborn strength. For a show all about politics, anger and potential global disaster, The Resistance is somehow so damn likeable!

Walking into the Rebel Theatre I tried to count the number of genuinely great plays I’d ever seen about the climate crisis and I could only think of one (Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs), but now thanks to ATYP I can add The Resistance to that list.



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