Leper + Chip leaps the hurdle that many productions about young people trip on.
Meeting at a party one night, the two are thrown together by consequence only to be cruelly torn apart by circumstance. The pair play their own characters as well as a host of supporting faces. Most entertaining are Leper’s snivelling accomplice, Beaver, and Chip’s gluttonous sidekick, Pringle. The shifts in character are expertly signalled, indicated with sharp changes in posture, in facial contortion and in pitch.
The story is told at breakneck speed but it’s easy enough to keep up with them. Framed by just two rows of flashbulbs, the show’s energy is addictive. I could easily have watched another hour. The final third sees a lot of narrative rush through at once but it’s not disorientating and never feels cheap. Instead the pile-on of tragedy on tragedy pinpoints that feeling of loss of control that underlies, and ultimately dictates, the pair’s lives.
The beauty of the production is in its simplicity. It is just storytelling at its most basic but you’d be forgiven for forgetting that entirely as Keating and Clarke-Stewart drag you into their world through writer Lee Coffee’s script.
The script itself is a knockout; funny yet heartbreaking and shockingly intelligent, Leper + Chip leaps the hurdle that many productions about young people trip on. It’s genuinely cool. Leper and Chip aren’t half-arsed teen stereotypes with teen problems - they’re all too real and they’re here to be taken seriously.