Art school confidential
This article is from 2009.
Amanda and Karl are the Brangelina of their graduating class at art school: beautiful, talented (Amanda maybe more so than Karl) and in love in that starry-eyed kind of way that happens when you’re 22. They’re also about to go head-to-head in a high profile contest that know it will make the winner’s career (fortunately the competition doesn’t seem to have had a detrimental effect on their sex life). Into their orbit comes fascinated first year Faith, less talented but determined to inveigle herself a piece of their glamour. Fifteen years on, we see the quiet, devastating fallout.
Jennifer Rowland’s well-crafted, moving script asks pertinent questions about the priorities and necessary selfishness of the artist, about the need to put career before love, and of the pressures that structured career plans can place on very young lives. Ironically, given its subject matter, The Contest is a solid, traditional rep theatre piece that concentrates on telling a story without any artistic flourishes. However, performances of depth and grace, particularly Jules Willcox as luminous, vulnerable Amanda and Heleya de Barros’ manipulative ingénue Faith, elevate it into something special.