Bathory Begins is an exhilarating play that’s packed to the brim with comedic chaos. Brought to the stage by Q Theatre and ATYP, this show is performed by high school aged actors at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre. Telling a story of high school rivalries, the girls of a public school arts class are rough around the edges and battle with the boys of an expensive private school under dangerous, supernatural circumstances. The show explores prejudices, assumptions and being divided in dire times, finding harmony along the way.
Upon first impressions, the design in costume and set is elaborate and detailed, making immersion into the classroom setting effortless. The show starts with a bang and is intriguing from the get-go. From the very beginning, the dialogue is sharp and witty, spotted with clever zings and cheeky remarks. The performers deliver high-frequency comedy throughout.
The fourteen performers making up the huge cast are all distinct from one another, and strong in their performances. The stock characters of high school are present; the emo, the mathematician, the self-appointed leader of the school and more. The interactions between characters and the overlapping of motives are dynamic and engaging, making each character feel like more than a stereotype. Every voice and performance is utterly unique.
The story told is nothing if not fun. The action, being dangerous and wacky, is made light-hearted by the humour and energy of it all. It’s packed with tension, energy and drama while still playing around funny issues, meaning that the experience is engaging and easy to get along with. We follow the kids who stumble their way towards finding unity against an unbelievable supernatural threat. The schemes they plot against one another are hilariously creative. Their silliness makes the feeling of hysteria or chaos in the classroom exciting. As the chaos grows to a full boil, a sudden turn in the action makes for an unexpected series of events, and the darkness of it only grows.
It’s wonderful to see young people achieve such genuinely enjoyable theatre and be able to drive the action of the show together without an adult leading it. To be able to deliver with such stage presence and unity is outstanding. Bathory Begins offers a laugh and entertainment, as well as some encouraging notions about accepting differences and embracing your own strengths.
Playing until the 21st of September at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre: