Writer: Kathy Rucker
Director: Jemma Gross
Reviewer: Kate Klatsken
Inspired by true events and the writer’s own experience of being a mother in this age of technology, Crystal Springs serves to highlight the dangers of social media. In this story Haley (Rebecca Boey), a teenage girl is driven to take her young life after being bullied on Facebook. Kathy Rucker’s play addresses this proficiently without going into hyperbole; there is no dramatics here, just a subtle and realistic portrayal of a very real problem.
The play opens with Hayley’s mother Rose (Angela Bull) being interviewed by Claire (Lucy Roslyn), a journalist intent on writing a book about the suicide. Crystal Springs is not only a reflection on the dangers of the digital age on the most vulnerable but also comments on social behaviour. Here, the reaction of the ones left behind is as interesting as how it happened.
The story, told in reverse, begins when Linda and her teenage daughter Jenna move into a well to do neighbourhood in Crystal Springs. Haley and Jenna quickly become friends and like many teenagers ultimately fall out. The focus shifts between Hayley’s plight and Jenna’s mother’s personal struggle to fit in and be liked in her new surroundings. It’s Linda’s feelings of insecurity and social rejection that have her unwittingly take revenge on her unsuspecting neighbours when she enrols her Personal Assistant, a young and computer savvy Mia (played with energy and spark by Pearl Mackie) to create a fake profile under the name of Kyle in order to taunt and bully Haley; a seemingly harmless bit of fun over a bowl of popcorn that ends in grim unforeseen consequences.
A strong ensemble of six women are a testament to Jemma Gross’ sound direction; the performances can’t be faulted. Particularly noticeable are the teenagers played beautifully by Tiana Khan and Rebecca Boey, neither of them taking it too far with the teenage dramatics but really having a grip on the fast changing temperaments.
The initial scenes held great promise of a suspenseful story following the people left behind and how they are changed by the tragedy, however I couldn’t help feeling that as the play stepped back in time to reveal how this all came about it lost some of the immediacy of the drama that was initially set up and the journalist (Lucy Roslyn) who was an interesting element quickly faded into the background and became more of a neat device in telling the story.
Rucker’s dialogue is sharp and well – observed but let down by a lack of drama and tension as the story becomes a little mundane in places and could benefit from a few surprises and less predictability.
Crystal Springs is a strong production with an excellent cast and an important story told through sharp and well observed dialogue.
Photo: Kim Hardy