The Age of Consent | Ken Longworth

DARK ISSUES: Jerry Ray and Amy Wilde in The Age of Consent. Photo by Phillip Ross, Hunter and King.
DARK ISSUES: Jerry Ray and Amy Wilde in The Age of Consent. Photo by Phillip Ross, Hunter and King.

TWO Tall Theatre’s inaugural production, The Age of Consent, played to packed houses when it was staged at Newcastle’s Royal Exchange in 2015, and had audience members staying to discuss the issues it raised.

So it’s not surprising that when company members suggested to Civic Theatre management that the play be given a second Newcastle season this year the offer was taken up. The Age of Consent will be staged at the Civic Playhouse from July 19 to 22 as part of the Civic’s 2017 season, with the initial staging team, actors Amy Wilde and Jerry Ray, and director Patrick Campbell, again involved.

As the title suggests, the play looks at issues involving young people and how adults handle them. One of the characters, Timmy (Jerry Ray), is a 19-year-old who was incarcerated in a correctional facility for killing a younger boy when he was aged 10. He’s about to be transferred to a halfway house and reflects on how imprisonment changed his life.

The other person, Stephanie (Amy Wilde), is a single mother who, at 25, is trying to get her six-year-old daughter established as a stage performer, and is taking questionable actions to achieve this.

The two characters’ pasts, presents and ambitions are revealed in a series of engaging monologues.

The 75-minute play is demanding on its two actors. But it’s a challenge they have appreciated.

Jerry Ray was 18 when the play was first staged and, two years later, finds Timmy more intimidating. “He’s a complex character and a bit of a minefield,” he said. “I’ve had to look carefully at his viewpoints and what it would be like for him to be re-entering the world as an adult.”

Amy Wilde likewise has discovered more things about Stephanie since first playing her. “She’s making what she thinks are genuine statements, but she doesn’t have a clue,” she notes.

Stephanie, for one thing, has attracted the interest of a theatre producer in her daughter’s talents, but her words indicate that he could be a paedophile.

The Age of Consent was written by American playwright Peter Morris, who lives in Britain, and premiered at the 2001 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, winning rave reviews. It initially also caused controversy, as Timmy’s story arose from the 2000 transfer to a halfway house of two teens who had been imprisoned in 1993 at ages 10 and 11 for murdering a two-year-old boy in England’s Liverpool.

The Age of Consent has performances at the Civic Playhouse nightly from Wednesday, July 19, to Saturday, July 22, at 8pm, plus an 11am matinee on July 20. Tickets: $25 to $35.

Bookings: 4929 1977.