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March 1, 2004 | by  | in Theatre |
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Golden Boys

Paul Rothwell was 6 years old when Teresa Cormack was murdered. “At that age”, he says, “you don’t know much about the world. I remember that I was too scared to walk to school, even though I lived right next door – I’d cut through my own backyard just so I didn’t have to walk to school.” It was this, and other such “loss-of-innocence” experiences, that lead Rothwell to write Golden Boys.

Golden Boys, being staged for the first time at this year’s Fringe Festival, is the story of three boys on the brink of adulthood whose lives are affected and haunted by the murder of one of their own, choirboy Keith Craig. The idea behind the script, says Rothwell, is that “we’re all just child murder victims – our bodies have survived, but our childhoods have decayed.” This is a play about being haunted not just by physical ghosts, but by our lost former selves, and Rothwell, a recent graduate of Unitec’s three-year drama programme, admits to parallels with his own life. “This is theatre for our generation”, he says. “We understand that the movement away from the safety net of parents isn’t a sudden thing. It happens in stages, at every point when we’re growing up.”

Likewise, Rothwell’s generational influences are evident in Golden Boys’s scripting and production. Stressing that inspiration for his play owes more to TV news than other theatre, Rothwell wryly admits that while Golden Boys is a modern idea, it’s “contemporary for the ‘90s.” He has set the play in that “weird in-between place that no one writes about”, circa 1987-1994, a time that he hopes will resonate with his target audience as one in which their own innocence began to erode. Production-wise, Golden Boys, directed by fellow Unitec alumnus Kip Chapman, attempts to evoke the dark and dreamlike quality of childhood memory. “It’s almost like theatre workshop”, says Rothwell. “It’s about mood, language, tone, resonance… I want it to be an aesthetic experience, like a theatrical poem… beautiful, poetic, sad.” The script challenges the audience to pay close attention in order to follow the story, but Rothwell is careful not to overstress the importance of Golden Boys’s plot. He is aiming for “a gut reaction, as opposed to an intellectual one.”

Fresh, exciting and experimental, Golden Boys stands out as a potential highlight of this year’s Fringe. You can catch it at Bats from February 22-26, and watch out for a review in next week’s Salient.

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