One of the lesser known pieces by pop writer extraordinaire Enda Walsh (Hunger, The Last Hotel) ‘Chatroom’ ultimately is a plea for genuine social change in a world increasingly dominated by social media and hidden-from-sight internet groups.
Set inside the near jungle experience of high school, and exploring its effects on those trying to manage themselves and their identity, the essence of Chat is its critique of the coping mechanisms often used by those in need of support, and their ability to be manipulated.
Led by a cast of remarkable teenage girls from SA Performing Arts Centre, Chat is brought to life through careful acting styles which avoid the awful overacting that amateur dramatics can often fall into, and instead asks the girls to essentially play themselves; complete with accents, frowns, bored teenage body language, and mischievous eye glints. Bringing to life the adolescent exploration of power and control, Chat’s success is in investigation of the whole teenage experience, not just the investigation of mental health and the fight for power; a reference to Britney is followed by a comment on suicide, which is then followed by a remark on someone’s weight.
A complete piece which investigates how society, and teenagers in particular, treat each other, Chatroom held a mirror to the world. Some of us may be glad we no longer have to traverse the teenage experience, but perhaps it’s us who need to remember just how painful it can be. Interesting content and superb acting.