Photography c. Ian Barry
"Poison. I saw her top glitter ‘Poison’. Then she turned and walked away.
The moon, it went behind a cloud. The darkness, it kind of swallowed her."
On December 12, 1988, ‘Sunny Girl’ Susie turned sweet sixteen. Her boyfriend Jason, gave her a Poison t-shirt, her best friend, Kelly, gave her a name necklace and Kelly’s boyfriend, Dazza, gave her a handful of pills. That night Susie Greene disappeared. Her body and kidnapper were never found.
Twenty-two years later, the blood splattered t-shirt of the missing schoolgirl is unearthed from the Australian scrub and her best friend Kelly is reluctantly drawn back to her childhood home. Together with Dazza and Jason, once the most important men in her life, Kelly faces the bleakest of high school reunions. As the police dig deeper, Susie’s classmates are forced to confront memories of a night they’d hoped to leave buried in their adolescence forever.
Captivated by tales of missing girls, Melita Rowston grew up in the Melbourne suburb that was grief-stricken by the disappearance of eight-year-old Eloise Worledge, snatched from her bed under the cover of night. Despite one of the largest manhunts in Victoria’s history, Eloise was never found.
Rowston remembers being warned by her mother to keep her bedroom window shut at night “unless she wanted to be taken like little Eloise was.” ‘Stranger danger’ was the catch cry of the day. Rapists lurked in the scrublands and abductors prowled the night streets ...
Statistics show that during the 1980s Australia had the highest rate of child abductions in the world. This speaks of a sinister violence that sleeps beneath the sun-bleached facade of our laid back culture.
The ‘lost child’ myth has haunted us since colonisation, throwing up deep-seated anxieties around stolen innocence, lost potential and what some say appears to be a national death wish. Whether that child is lost in Marcus Clarke’s 19th century literature, staggering through McCubbin’s Heidelberg School paintings or disappearing into the shadows of Joan Lindsay’s Hanging Rock, she is a recurring motif in our national narratives.
Rowston felt compelled to explore this myth and put the mystery of the missing girl centre stage. CRUSHED is the result: a play that speaks specifically to Rowston’s own generation, Gen X, a ‘lost generation’ itself, steeped in ambivalence about the future. The imagined story of the disappearance of Susie Greene and the impact on her three best friends 22 years’ later deftly taps into these fears and captures with ironic hindsight the spirit of the 80s – the Nirvana generation: ‘Oh well, whatever, nevermind’.
An acerbic and fast-paced Gen X tale, a murder mystery/who-dunnit, revelling in the current 80‘s retro zeitgeist, Crushed explores the sinister violence that lurks beneath the sun-bleached facade of our ‘she’ll be right’ culture.
"One of the funniest shows I've seen. CRUSHED is as much a blast from the [80s] past for its characters as it is for the audience ... welcome to the mother of all high-school reunions!" Time Out
"A bold and emphatic production of a very polished play, CRUSHED is a provocative and poignant entertainment" Sydney Arts Guide
"CRUSHED is all about the characters ... they are infinitely engaging, wonderfully developed and sensitively portrayed" Australian Stage
“[The characters are] drawn vividly by both writer and actors. You know them. You can laugh at them. With them. You can feel for them. You can judge them. And, if you’re really, really honest, you can recall things you’d rather forget, too" Curtain Call, Crikey
Writer: Melita Rowston
Director: Lucinda Gleeson
Producer: Jennifer Campbell
Cast: Sean Barker, Lucy Miller & Jeremy Waters
Designer: Eliza McLean
Lighting Designer: Richard Whitehouse
Sound Designer: Shane Choi
Stage Manager/Operator: Victor Areces Dramaturg: Erin Thomas
Photographer: Ian Barry
The New Theatre, Spare Room, May, 2012
This project was a Queen Street Studios Performing Arts residency in 2012 and a Queen Street Studios Off the Shelf residency in 2010.
The Lost Child - Sydney Morning Herald
Crushed was published by Playlab Indie in 2015. Chosen from over 60 entries Australia-wide, the collection brings together a go-to collection of quality, edgy new work.
A monologue from Crushed was selected by Playlab Indie to be featured in their 2017 Female Monologue Collection Vol 2.