An endearing tribute to some of the most pressing social questions of our youth: ‘People You May Know’ review


15 December 2023

We’re all about promoting the voice of youth and providing a platform for young people to share their experiences and develop their critical voice through our Ambassadors program. The views expressed are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Canberra Youth Theatre or its staff.

Hannah Cornelia, one of our 2023 Ambassadors, reviews the Lucid Theatre Company production of People You May Know at The Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre.

Directed by Matt White, People You May Know by Lucid Theatre Company intertwines stories of a murder-mystery-esque hunt to find who leaked a sex tape, a hopeless romantic on a search for true love, and the exploration of connection in a world where internet interactions have strangely ceased. Witty, full of life and painfully relatable, this play never bores, only delights! 

The story opens with a familiar party scene, where the setting already appears to have undergone all-nighters, and clubbing music thrums unenthusiastically from speakers. This party is dead and no one appears to be having a good time. Amid a breakdown between airhead Sadie (Ashleigh Butler) and rational Tara (Isobel Sambridge), Isla (Erin Hawker) announces with pride that she has been nominated for the prestigious Chancellor’s Award. Little does she know, that very night, a damning sex tape has been released of herself and her course’s convenor. To top it all off, everyone is horrified to find, in the morning, that the entire internet has crashed, save for that indispensable dinosaurs-jumping-over-cacti game. In the words of cynical but brilliant Bianca, “God has no jurisdiction here…he still uses stone tablets”. However, in the end, only one question truly matters; how do you make connections in an ever-increasingly detached world? 

The star performance of the show featured Jessie Gooding as Alex, as she seamlessly connected with other cast members, creating some of the most beautiful moments of connection. Sweet, anxious Teddy (Angela Weckert) and Alex bond over Studio Ghibli and scented notebooks, drawing our attention to their fast friendship, as they discuss how “we have to be open to connection” and yet “it isn’t something you can manufacture”, blatantly highlighting the show’s core message. 

However, the heart of the play beats strongest during an amusing but fundamentally heartwarming exchange between love-struck Sadie and lost Frankie (Brandon Goodwin) over a drive-through speaker. Here, the audience “awwwws” and “cooooos” as the two, unbeknownst to each other’s identities until the last minute, connect over life and love. 

Despite these adorable scenes, the hunt to find who published Isla’s sex tape presented a bizarre, nefarious side plot mimicking the niche Scottish detective genre. The captivating

Quinn Goodwin as Bianca and her strange Apparition (Liam Mack), most likely an extension of herself, engage in a hilarious series of doom-filled freeze-frames, paired with an ominous backing track as they embark on their investigation. I am sorry to inform potential audience members that this does not end well. 

The show, from start to finish, wonderfully includes the audience in this overarching theme of connection, with its constant humour and thrilling audience participation. Despite this, there are a few haphazard structural concerns with the plot and an overall confusion of purpose. As an ensemble piece, the show attempted to combine so many threads of individual character development over a myriad of genres that left many loose strings hastily tied, if at all. Furthermore, the great reveal of the whodunit felt underwhelming and lacklustre, given the audience knew everything already, as the cast’s energy fell flat. Thankfully, the show didn’t end there, following through on its promise to make connections, not leave them broken. 

Another product of post-pandemic literature, questioning isolationism and the online world, People You May Know is an endearing tribute to some of the most pressing social questions of our youth. This play tells us that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Or, hang on a second, I believe Bianca said instead to “make porn”. Either way, People You May Know is an entertaining must-watch with lessons for us all.

Hannah Cornelia is an avid lover of theatre and words. As an ambassador to Canberra Youth Theatre and The Q, she attempts to be as involved in the Canberra area drama scene as much as possible. But don’t be concerned! She has many other hobbies and passions, hoping to follow a career path in diplomacy when she leaves school. Last year Hannah performed in CYT’s Dags (Lynnette) and Canberra Repertory Theatre production of Sense and Sensibility (Margaret). This year, she assistant directed her school musical, The Little Mermaid.