Crystal Springs (Park Theatre)
Kathy Rucker's play highlights an increasingly prevalent problem
Cyberbullying is a well documented issue and one that has come under strong attention in particular in the past three years. There have been tragic cases worldwide of teenagers committing suicide as a result of harassment doled out online while smaller cases of intimidation happen on a daily basis around the globe. It is not, however, a simple issue to address and Crystal Springs at Park Theatre manages to bear out the intricacies of the issue through an honest and heartfelt tale.
Crystal Springs depicts the lives of family members and friends as they come to grips with the suicide of teenager Hayley (Rebecca Boey). The use of social media and electronic communication in precipitating her death is obvious, as she is bullied online by a persona fabricated by those she formerly trusted.
Journalist Claire (Lucy Roslyn) attempts to unearth the facts of the case by confronting tormenters Mia (Pearl Mackie), Jenna (Tiana Khan), and her mother Linda (Suzan Syslvester). The events of Crystal Springs run backwards, working their way from the shattered lives left after Hayley's suicide back to the optimism of the families when they first moved in.
The acting of the all-female cast is of a very high standard and excellent in places. Roslyn plays an intriguing journalist, hiding her own insecurities behind the veil of her job. Boey's Hayley and Khan's Jenna beautifully capture the fickleness of teenagers as they alternately spread vicious gossip about each other and call each other 'besties'. Boey's tragic monologue is well delivered and her piercing stare makes you more than a little uncomfortable.
The scene is ended by an aesthetically striking but somewhat contrived image of a laptop cable noose and in moments like this the play drifts slightly too close to cliché. This is deftly mitigated however by the disrupted chronology of the play. The format gives more depth to an otherwise simple story, implying that even within seemingly happy occurrences the seeds of disaster may lie dormant.
Crystal Springs is sweet in places, always honest and yet never cloying. More than this, it is a refreshing take on an increasingly severe problem and one that does not simply ascribe blame or distill the tangled issues into an easily solved mystery. No character escapes blame, with neglectful, insecure and arrogant mothers mimicking their hormonal and volatile children.
Even an apparently neutral journalist is shown to have bias and ulterior motives. There are no heroes or scapegoats and in this respect, the play does justice to the all too similar and complex stories unfolding in various parts of the country.
Crystal Springs runs at the Park Theatre until 31 August