Normal begins as it means to go on by alienating everyone sitting beyond the first two rows. A young actor lies belly down at the front of the stage, completely out of sight for most of the audience, mumbling his lines upstage. This sets the level of audibility for the performance and it’s a strain to catch every other line from all but one of the actors.
Fortunately, the script of Normal revolves around such a blunt message that hearing even only half the lines hammers it relentlessly through the collective cranium of the audience. Being an individual is good. Conforming is bad. It’s a stark script that needs a great deal of subtlety to make it convincing or interesting and unfortunately the Perth Youth Theatre cast don’t yet have the skill to inhabit and transform the characters. Bernie Munro stands out, both for his ability to project his lines past the front row and his commitment to his role; his high energy performance is the most engaging in the show.
There are a number of strange staging and technical decisions taken throughout the play. The fourth wall is rather foolishly broken towards the end of the show for no identifiable reason, an amateur mistake. When a purple light floods the stage and the Pirates of the Caribbean theme drowns out the dialogue, normality has truly left the building. The cast are young but their enthusiasm fails to shine through, perhaps because we simply couldn’t hear it.