Theatre Review: The First Time

The First Time covers topics rarely aired in public
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The First Time covers topics rarely aired in public

The First Time
By Courtney Rose Brown, directed by Neenah Dekkers-Reihana
Bats Theatre, Wellington, 8pm, until March 25.

One of the benefits of theatre is that it often provides a platform for writers to canvass issues and concerns affecting not only themselves, but the world around them and for performers to voice those ideas in some sort of performance-based structure, The First Time written by Courtney Rose Brown, currently playing at Bats Theatre, is a great example of this.

Five young women sit on stage and relate experiences that have occurred to them for the first time. This in itself is not unusual, in that many plays have done this previously.  What is different with The First Time however, is that it covers topics rarely aired in public and often regarded as not suitable for a theatrical performance.  And while the structure of the show as a series of monologues with the odd interaction from one character to another doesn't wholly work, there is sufficient within the speeches to hold the audience's attention.

Unfortunately, there is no programme handed out, so it is difficult to know who the characters are and who the actors are playing them, but all five give stellar performances, adding much to the show's ability to work.

They each have a different type of chair, allowing for different body postures in the way they sit as they talk, giving interesting and often telling nuances to what they are saying.  And each is also dressed appropriately, again adding to each story.

Initially it appears that these are just going to be five unrelated stories, but cleverly there are moments of interaction with the other characters, one being part of another's story, weaving a type of connecting thread that links them together, with the commonality being that no matter the situation, the stress of the first time is the same.

While one story is the usual girl-meets-boy, lives-with-boy then breaks up with some telling twists from the girl's perspective, others are more complex and revealing, such as the poignantly expressed feelings of one girl for another for the first time and the haunting tale from one of her experience of a type of "date rape" scenario.

It is to the credit of the actors that their integrity and the way they relate these tales with sincerity and heartfelt emotion, that the piece succeeds as well as it does and provides insight into the thoughts and minds of young women of today.

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