Technology is one of the great wonders of our time. It’s a brilliant way to advance into the future, connect people from all over the world, access otherwise inaccessible information and it provides endless entertainment.

But it’s also one of the biggest threats to security, on both a personal and national level. Used for evil, it provides a vehicle for alienation, bullying, dehumanising and countless other ways of attacking each other.

jeremy-waters-danielle-king-in-4-minutes-12-seconds-c-rupert-reidJames Fritz’s 4 Minutes 12 Seconds explores the implications of technology, and the devastating and insidious impact it can have on our lives.

In its Australian premiere, Outhouse Theatre Company have brought their stunningly powerful production to the Old Fitz, and this is a show you don’t want to miss. It is a painfully relevant, topical thriller that is bound to get audiences squirming in their seats and hopefully opens up a discussion that needs to be had.

Di and David have given their teenage son every possible opportunity to succeed, and now he’s almost on his way to university with a brilliant future ahead of him. But a disturbing incident threatens to undo everything his parents have worked for, and when a video shot on a mobile phone goes viral, it seems irreparable. As events escalate and lies become reality, Di and David begin to question everything they know, including themselves and their own son.

kate-cheel-in-4-minutes-12-seconds-c-rupert-reidFritz’s play is a thrilling ride, with shattering revelations around every corner. It’s gasp-inducing, and the audience on opening night was more than enraptured. It’s beautifully written, and incredibly well observed. At the beginning it’s exhilaratingly funny, as Di and David’s relationship is established and they try to make rhyme and reason of the accusations being made about their son. And in the final scenes, the silence from the audience was deafening.

Director Craig Baldwin has crafted a riveting and profoundly moving production, and brought together a sensational cast.

Danielle King, as always, is incredibly magnetic. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her performance style is wonderfully natural, and the pain and emotional conflict Di experiences throughout the play is etched beautifully onto her face. A stunning, gut-wrenching performance.

As her husband David, Jeremy Waters cuts an imposing figure on stage. His transformation from concerned, protective husband to disturbingly proud parent is sickening (in a good way). Waters matches King’s emotion with ease, and the power play between the two is compelling to watch.

Kate Cheel as Cara and Felix Johnson as Nick both have smaller roles, but don’t lose any of their impact. Cheer plays the South London chav to absolute perfection, down to the last hair flick. She’s intense and feisty, but finds lovely moments of vulnerability too. Johnson gives a complex performance, full of surprising depth and emotion.

jeremy-waters-and-danielle-king-in-4-minutes-12-seconds-c-rupert-reidAesthetically, the production is simple, which allows for the script itself to shine. Set and costumes by Hugh O’Connor are minimal but cleverly used. The ‘standing bed’ is ingenious.

The actual structure of the play is interesting. There are some longer scenes, but mostly it’s constructed of these small vignettes, punctuated in with abrupt blackouts (lighting design by Christopher Page) and at times the scenes jump ahead a fair way. It’s interesting because sometimes it worked, when the following scene exploded with energy. The device is understandably being used to keep the plot moving forward, but it didn’t always work.

4 Minutes will hopefully spark a fierce debate. The quotes in the program about “When will women learn?” show that we still have a painfully long way to go. It’s embarrassing, not to mention frightening. How about educating boys and men that our bodies are not their property? How about teaching boys and men that we’re worth more than sex? How about teaching boys and men to respect woman as human beings, not treat them as objects and playthings? How about teaching boys and men that having these attitudes and opinions towards women have consequences?

I hadn’t even read the program before the show started, and the whole way through I was thinking “Brock Turner”.

It disgusts me that he had such a short sentence for such a heinous crime. The victim’s statement, now widely accessible online, is incredibly moving and courageous, but because he is a white male who can swim well and had a future ahead of him, the judge was lenient. What about her future? What about her life? “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice,” she says. What a brave, eloquent woman, and what injustice she must feel.

The Old Fitz is the perfect venue for the intensity of this play. The tension never abates, and in such a small space it is inescapable. Whatever you do, do not miss this production. Go, watch and talk. It’s important.

Alana Kaye – Theatre Now