4 Min Read

From Teen Rebellion to Earth’s Core: Democracy Repair Services

Democracy Repair Services is a political story about a bunch of teenagers planning climate activism. The concept is very vogue, and those Disrupt Burrub Hub posters I’ve seen around popped into my head as I was watching. There seems to be two stories trying to be told here – one about classic teenagers rallying together to fight injustice, and the other a more interpretative story about the inner workings of the earth. As two separate stories, they both have merit and could have been great individual productions. They didn’t quite come together as a cohesive piece, however I did appreciate the attempt to articulate a fluid concept of space and time.

Writer Noemie Huttner-Koros has developed some well-crafted characters, like the privileged character of Viv (Rali Maynard) who carries an air of entitlement and colonial climate activism. This plays off with the underdog Elena (Zoe Garciano) whose disadvantaged background is suggested as a tactic that can be used to glibly evoke sympathy.

The tension between Rali Maynard and Zoe Garciano was palpable throughout the show, which seamlessly streamed through the iterative characters they played. The way the dialogue of these two characters constantly overlaps, demonstrates this tension well and you struggle to distinguish one’s words over the other’s in these moments. 

Democracy Repair Services. Photography by Edwin Sitt.

Rali was convincing in her portrayal as Viv, a self-appointed leader who wants to be in charge but doesn’t want to be seen to be in charge, or like she’s trying too hard. Zoe Garciano stole the show, delivering their lines with a sharp intensity that demands your attention. They play underdog characters well, and really highlight the lack of attention that non-white voices tend to get in the realm of climate activism. They nail the demeanour of a natural leader who is constantly quashed by an entitled person who wants to be in charge despite their lack of charisma.

The character of Fin, played by Gabriel Critti-Schnaars, relies on tired stereotypes of computer nerds who are socially awkward. However Gabriel’s movement in a dance piece towards the end of the show is stellar, albeit out of place. It has such beautiful flow that I could have just watched him dance for an hour. 

As Billy, Phoebe Eames gave dumb teenage boy energy that made me laugh. The variety of characters I’ve seen this actor play has been enjoyable and they seem to draw on so many different experiences and acting techniques. There was something about Billy’s hats that changed throughout the scenes which was possibly meant to demonstrate some kind of character development. 

Democracy Repair Services. Photography by Edwin Sitt.

A projector is used to show chapter titles throughout the show, which makes you feel like you are looking at someone flicking through a book. Depending on where you were sitting, it’s hard to read the titles. If the projection was tilted down a little it would have been easier to read from the corner back row. (If you see the show, I suggest you sit in one of the front rows.) 

Sound designer David Stewart selected some great sounds. The volume was a bit off on the night I attended, it was loud and didn’t quite fade so it didn’t hit like it should have. However, this is something the team could easily tinker with it.

The stage design by Molly Werner is my favourite part. A large black plate descends from the roof partway through the show which provides grounding for the direction of the actors. The resin-like material also offers interesting reflections of the lighting. And a great reflective surface for a selfie with my guest as we walked out of the show 😉

Democracy Repair Services is on now at The Blue Room Theatre until November 25.