Review: Play documents youthful drug abuse

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“April’s Fool” by David Burton directed by Lewis Jones, for Empire Theatre Projects Company, at the Q, Queanbeyan until May 17. Bookings to 6285 6290.

Reviewed by Helen Musa

BY a curious coincidence both The Q, Queanbeyan and The Street Theatre have plays on this week that deal with teenage abuse, in the former case drug abuse, in the latter, abuse of the internet.

But there the similarity ends, for  “April’s Fool” at The Q is a documentary theatre piece firmly aimed at young audiences, and with a worrying touch of didacticism.

Based on the real life story of 19-year-old Queenslander Kristjan Terauds, the “April’s fool” who died following complications from an ecstasy overdose in 2009, the play has all the strengths and weaknesses this genre.

The strength is that it comes directly from life.  As the actors step out to explain, the script has been pieced together from interviews with family, friends, hospital staff and onlookers as Terauds lay dying.

The weaknesses are the loss of focus that comes with a fully-scripted original play, for with all the commentary, it is not always possible to see the wood for the trees.

We never meet Terauds in this play. Rather playwright David Burton’s focus is on the impact his death has on those around him.

In my view, the emphasis should have remained on his mother, father, sister and brother, played superbly and with dignity by Allen Laverty, Barbara Lowing, Sam Clark and Jessica Harm.

As it was, the cast, which also included Belinda Raisin,  had also to play a huge range of characters, including an expert who uses Terauds’ example to give us a lecture on drug abuse and many friends who, while expressing their feelings of loss, drift off course.

The most moving parts of this play are the family scenes – they make the point about drug-taking eloquently enough. The play is at least 20 minutes too long and should  have stopped before the mawkish eulogy, which lessened the impact of the boy’s death.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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