Tuna, VAULT Festival

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by Euan Vincent

This play literally packs heat. Airlock theatre’s one-woman show tackles guns, deprivation, and asks what it’s like when a young mind is faced with life-affecting choice. It hurtles through its hour driven by the insistent, virtuosic energy of writer and performer Rosanna Suppa.

Suppa plays a teenage girl with anger issues. She’s in a youth offender programme, having committed a shocking misdemeanour. At home, her life is tough: her gun-obsessed, bully of a Dad has left the family, leaving her Mother too depressed to properly care for her or her 6-year-old sister. It’s up to her, the teenager, to hold everything together. She is, however, bright – top of her class in English and Maths – so she has the chance to escape it all and become the first in her family to attend university. But could she really leave her little sister to fend for herself?

In spite of the weight of its themes, Tuna is a funny and uplifting play. Suppa’s writing
bristles with insouciant wit while delivering a complex, well-structured narrative. As a
performer, she brings the story to life by marvellously shape-shifting between each
character without ever breaking from her incessant pace. All the while, she’s aided by the confident hand of Catja Hamilton’s lighting design, which subtly marks the changing moods. The one part that isn’t performed, however, is the girl’s mother. Director Robbie Taylor Hunt instead suggests this looming presence with a door ajar and muffled, wistful music – creating the palpable atmosphere of a life lived in tatters and adding dark counterbalance to Suppa’s comedy.

Airlock Theatre are fast forging a reputation for theatrical excellence, and with Tuna they continue to hold their bar high. It’s a treasure of a play, delivered by a host of emerging talents.

Tuna runs through 9 February.

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