Prehistoric @ Summerhall

Elbow Room Productions' show is a moving and funny look at Brisbane's music scene in the 1970s

Review by Grace Lavender | 31 Aug 2018

Prehistoric combines the theatrical with the musical in what is a blistering production about rebellion and bravery. Created by Australian group Elbow Room Productions and directed by Marcel Dorney, this show is somewhere between a play and a gig. Brigid Gallacher, Sahil Saluja, Zachary Pidd and Grace Cummings are all as comfortable onstage as they playing their instruments, treating the audience to a show peppered with post-punk performances.

Set in Brisbane, Queensland in 1979, it's the middle of Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s almost 20-year term as Premier of the state, a position acquired through repeated electoral malapportionment. Bjelke-Petersen’s reign was characterised by a repressive and violent police force who famously attempted to dismantle and destroy any semblance of youth subculture. In Prehistoric the police attack and brutalise young people for going to gigs, staying out late and expressing any alternative political views. The script is based on real accounts from people involved in the Brisbane music scene in the 1970s.

The play sees Deb, Nick, Pete and Rachel struggle against the Queensland authorities as they try to start their own band. Coming together against a common enemy, they struggle against the state and each other in what is an emotionally charged show. From fights between themselves to arrests and beatings, this is a production filled with conflict but with no resolution. Pidd’s portrayal of Pete is complex and vibrant, from moments of complete hilarity to darker and far scarier scenes. Equally, Cummings shines as Rachel Privilege, the anthropology student trying to live out her punk dreams.

Prehistoric is as moving as it is funny, and as loud as it is quiet. It addresses the thinking behind dissent and the importance of resistance, and is a complete triumph.

Prehistoric, Summerhall (Demonstration Room), run ended

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