Seventeen, it’s a strange time. You’re pretty old but not that old. You probably look pretty grown-up but not that grown-up. You can’t legally drink and smoke but you almost definitely do drink and maybe smoke. You’re a hotshot, you’re a loser, you have everything figured out and nothing figured out.
Thomus, a youthful psycho-thriller opening today at The Basement Theatre, explores these weird and wonderful teenage years.
I recently sat down with Milo Cawthorne and Amelia Reynolds, who play Thomus and his gal pal Wendy, to talk about their latest project.
We meet at a café on K Road and it’s immediately apparently that this interview will have a chatty vibe. Milo and Amelia are clearly at ease with each other and often interject with side commentary or jokes.
First off, I go with the easy question – what’s the show about? Amelia tells me it’s “essentially a coming of age story in its humblest form”. The protagonist comes to Onehunga High School with his family following some romantic issues between his parents. Once there, he meets Wendy and quickly begins a journey of “lust, love and sex”.
He also gets involved with some questionable characters, a sort of threesome that lead him astray. Milo describes these guys as “ne’er-do-wells”.
“How often do they do well? Ne’er.”
Thomus has been an interesting reflective experience for both actors. They’re both 27, a decade off the characters they are playing. Amelia doesn’t see this as an issue though, because while some aspects of teenage life are hugely different than they were in 2006, the “process of realising what’s important to you and that kind of stuff hasn’t changed”.
One of the most interesting aspects of Thomus is its language – the play is written in iambic pentameter. Feeding off the success of the The Pop Up Globe, Amelia and Milo both say this aspect adds a “playfulness” to the piece.
Despite Amelia being asked for “more Shakespeare please” by director and writer Ash Jones, the Shakespearian verses haven’t been too much of a challenge for the two actors. Both participated in Sheilah Winn, a Shakespeare competition, back in the day and Amelia even proudly reveals she won a stage combat award.
Iambic pentameter isn’t the only way Thomus links to Shakespeare. Amelia notes there’s archetypal tragic themes as well as “black humour”, and Milo adds a couple of classic asides are “thrown in for good measure”.
It is also these Shakespearian elements in a modern setting that will likely make Thomus accessible and attractive to a variety of audiences.
Milo gives me a range of people who will enjoy their play. From “people with Gold Cards that enjoy Shakespeare” to “younger people who are just getting introduced to it”.
The most obvious thing I notice when chatting to Amelia and Milo is how tight their cast is. There’s the constant jokes between the pair about their previous impressive children’s television experience (Milo was a Kiwi Power Ranger and Amelia was on both The Tribe and Australia’s As the Bell Rings) to their complimentary commentary on the rest of their cast (which includes actors from Step Dave, Shortland Street and Lord of the Rings).
“[Bruce Hopkin’s] physique is worth coming to the show alone,” quips Amelia in what appears to be a half-joke, half-truth.
In my experience, the best plays are often made by the tightest cast and crew, so if the easy-going but enthusiastic attitude of Amelia and Milo is anything to go by, Thomus is going to be a great show.
Grab a few high school pals and head along to Thomus for some teenage reflection, you might even be reminded of your Year 12 English class through the Shakespearian additions.
Thomus shows from now until September 10. Tickets are available here.