Crushed is as much of a blast from the past for its characters as it is for the audience. It doesn’t take long till you’re confronted by memories of your own band T-shirt and cut-off denim combination, times spent cruising the streets, blaring the Doors. Welcome to the mother of all high school reunions: old cliques re-form and childish habits take over, no matter how mature and level headed you had assured yourself you would be.
‘Sunny Girl’ Susie disappeared without a trace in the summer of 1988. She had just celebrated her 16th birthday. Twenty-two years on, the police discover her blood spattered Poison T-shirt. The case is re-opened and Kelly (Lucy Miller), Dazza (Sean Barker) and Jason (Jeremy Waters), Susie’s ‘closest’ friends, are dragged back for the occasion.
Despite being the main reason for this dysfunctional reunion, Susie’s murder mystery takes a back seat to the trio’s brutal trip down memory lane. The trio’s interaction quickly reverts to schoolyard jibes, petty put-downs and finger pointing. This is a group of friends who have swapped boyfriends and body fluids and seen each other at their very worst.
Their crass dialogue is uniquely Australian – only the true blue can reminisce fondly about the sensation of washing down a Chiko with a tumbler of Fruity Lexia. At times however this dark comedy relies too heavily on audience nostalgia to carry a joke.
Inspired by the Australian myth of the ‘lost child’, Sydney playwright Melita Rowston allows her characters’ mannerisms and reminiscences to paint the scene. A simple backdrop of neon trees and industrial benches allows the audience the freedom to project their own image of 1980’s Australia. A selection of rock classics, from the Doors to AC/DC, adds to the audience’s image of an adolescent world in which life’s most important moments are shared among friends in the back of a beat-up wagon.
Crushed re-opens wounds in the national psyche – think the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain, Daniel Morcombe or Joan Lindsay’s missing schoolgirls at Hanging Rock. You’ll find yourself siding with the trio as they are overcome by the very relatable fear, that one childhood mistake could define the rest of their lives, and that their dreams may never make it past the back fence.