Everyone reaches a crossroads in their life, where two possible paths lie before you, each with unknown results. This is the scenario young Josh (Daniel Cropley) finds himself in Shivered, the latest play from Cropley Productions. A dramatic thriller, albeit with numerous comedic moments, this performance explores the pressure we put on young people, specifically high school students, to pick a path and determine their future at an age where many of us have only barely started to comprehend this whole “adult” thing, let alone the weight of the next sixty-odd years.
The classic “follow your dreams vs be boring and sensible” plot isn’t anything new, but the approach here is definitely unique. And we can see the stakes complicated with the opinions and pressures from people around Josh, such as his girlfriend Lindsey (Ashlin Petty) and supportive sister Louise (Dana Cropley).
Intertwined in this is a peculiar man (Matthew Cropley) who appears to be overly invested in our protagonist. This leads to some particularly dark and intense moments, performed beautifully by the actors. At times there is a disconnect at times between the serious and the lighter moments of the play. In a single scene we have a creepy interaction between Josh and his would-be stalker, and then the wildly comical antics of Dave the Barista (Matt Ahearn), recalling his most infamous customer and an unusual request. This scene was indeed one of the funniest in the show, and I’m sure I’ll be chuckling to myself “pupperchinos” for a while. But while all these elements are solid, the transition between light and darkness could be a little smoother.
The Twist – because there’s always a twist in a thriller – is indeed satisfying and well crafted, if a bit loosely explained. But it didn’t really need to be. It just works. And in the scope of a 50 minute Fringe performance you can only explore so many details.
Theatre is always a risk, especially when you’re a small company without the backing of flashy sponsors and large production department. And it’s so great to see more and more bourgeoning artists putting themselves out there and giving it a go. And I really have to commend this young team for taking on such dark and complex themes. It’s not easy to demonstrate an existential crisis on the stage in such a thoughtful and measured way, and I certainly look forward to see what project they take on next.
Shivered is definitely relatable for anyone who has ever felt themselves torn between two (or more) life paths, or for anyone who may look back and question if they picked the right one. There are no easy answers to these big philosophical questions, but it’s still comforting to watch them play out and realise you’re far from alone in the uneasiness.
Words by Simone Corletto.
Shivered is being performed at Tandanya Theatre at Live from Tandanya this weekend on the 16th, 17th and 18th of February.