The Cockburn Incident

Hot, sweaty, Australian summer. The time of year when the smell of SPF 50+ sunscreen reigns supreme. When Zooper Doopers monopolise the icy pole industry. And you hold weird poses to avoid nasty sweat patches.  This is when the incident happens. At the beginning of their final year of high school, Cockburn College’s oval is desecrated. The School Captain, Diane, and her BFF, Lucy, go all ‘Murder, She Wrote’ on the situation to uncover the culprit. A celebration of friendship and memes, The Cockburn Incident explores our responsibility in this weird, unpredictable world.

The Cockburn Incident- running at The Centre For Stories until Friday the 3rd of February as part of this years Perth Fringe World Festival- will have you in absolute stitches. The show is a time warp to the days of WACE, high school inter-friendship politics and the ever relatable plague of penis drawings. Writer and director Zachary Sheridan captures the days of yore for the young adult audience perfectly. Every audience member left the show knowing that they are not alone in their ridiculous and nonsensical experience with the Australian education system.

The direction (assisted by Bec Fingher) put forth a well choreographed and slick show, given the limitations of space.The physical theatre components of the show were visually flawless and were always sure to induce a cacophony of laughter from the audience. The small performance space was fully utilised to it’s best potential, involving the audience at every turn. The sound design courtesy of Marshall Stay kept the intensity and pace rolling for the duration of the performance. The dramaturgy work of Cam Pollock was absolutely flawless, abundant with references that hit right in the heart of every single audience member. The set, costume and lighting design (courtesy of Dani Chilton and Phoebe Pilcher) were simple yet gloriously nostalgia prompting. Personal favourites including those gray school chairs we know and despise and the shining star of the entire design aspect of the show; a lone overhead projector (whomever pitched the chase scene deserves at least 89 bubblegum Zooper Doopers).

The acting work of the entire ensemble was very strong, each character was well fleshed out and every fine point workshopped. The choreographed aspects of the show were extremely well rehearsed and the scenic and prop changeovers seamless. The audience were treated to precious non-standard Aus-core characters who explored hilarious and relatable relationships with one another. Within moments of hilarity, the actors dealt beautifully with the difficult topics of friendships, first loves and family issues. The segues between characters were immaculate, with the impeccable use of costuming and accents.

Courtney Henri (as Sophie) played the smart yet totally unattainable and uninterested girl of our dreams, with so much going on in her reactions that it was hard to look away from her. The truthful portrayal of tragic adolescent male friendship was performed beautifully with a gloriously timed, hilariously tragic argument sequence with Christopher Moro (Conor) and James Thomasson (Fitzy). Marshall Stay as Mr. Care with the hideous hair pulled all the right stops with his comedic timing, but also fell into the the more tender and serious moments with ease and conviction. Tamara Creasy as Lucy and Elise Wilson as Diane made for the prefect dream team of my own personal nightmares. The chemistry and playfulness between the two made for a vast array of tip-top moments, my personal favourite being the forty step handshake which was so well done that the audience were left in awe. Lucy’s meandering and often abstract monologues confused and delighted the audience every time.

With innovative and nostalgia overloading design concepts, brilliant writing and stellar acting, The Cockburn Incident is not one to miss. The only complaint to be had is that more people couldn’t fit in the room, to share in the reminiscences of high school trauma. Upon talking to the actors of the show, they shared that one of their goals was for the audience to leave with a sense of community and collectively everyone involved helped that goal come into fruition. The Cockburn Incident is perfect if you love to be reminded of Myspace, getting sent to the principal’s office and Smashmouth’s hit song All Star.

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