Stephen Carleton was commissioned to write The Gate Crasher by Griffith University’s Applied Theatre Department for their student production I Will Kiss You in Four Places. Four Brisbane writers were each given the challenge of writing a 20-minute play with at least six characters and only a month to submit the first draft.
The Gate Crasher is a play about five friends meeting after the wake of a school friend they’d all admired and lusted over. Jett was the guy everyone wanted to be like or date but he died young in a motorbike accident. The gate crasher of the play’s title is Larissa, who appears to be another girl from school but whom none of them remember although she seems to know everything about them.
MISHA: I still can’t place you, Larissa. It’s crazy, isn’t it? You think you remember everyone from high school, but I look at the photos and I swear—a good third of the faces are strangers to me. All those days—years—of being stuck together. Those hours of torture that drag by during classes you don’t give a shit about. I’ve forgotten it already. Or repressed it. I couldn’t tell you what rooms half of my classes were in. I only barely remember the architecture of the building. I don’t remember what was on the walls. Which rooms were carpeted and which were tiled. Which ones the air conditioning worked in. What was I doing? Walking around in a fucking fog for five years?
At first it seems a relatively innocent reunion at a sad time, but as the play progresses the events become more and more sinister and Larissa’s knowledge of intimate details of their lives goes from being unsettling to downright creepy.
LARISSA: She was always going to marry a rescuer.
KEL: Excuse me?
LARISSA: She used to burn herself with cigarettes. Down behind the bike sheds. She hated herself.
KEL: Can you please stop being an expert on my friends’ lives? We don’t even know who you are.
Stephen Carleton is a master of witty, clever dialogue and has also made a name for himself for gothic tales (Constance Drinkwater and the Final Days of Somerset) and this piece is a nice mixture of the two. Given the time constraints for writing it, it’s obviously not as deep or detailed as his other plays, but it’s a fun read and lets us discover the dark side of the old school yard … and prawn trawlers.
RYAN I’m sick of prawns. […] Sick of pulling off the shells and rippin’ out the guts. Sick of the cuts and bits of shell under my fingernails. Sick of stinkin’ like prawns even after I’ve scrubbed off six layers of skin trying to get the fuckin’—
KEL Can we leave the fisherman’s vocabulary on the boats, please?
Publisher: Playlab Press in I Will Kiss You in Four Places (published in CD format rather than on paper)
Cast: 4F, 2M