Unpacking the dramas that energise a class of budding young actors, The Rehearsal mounts an enticing inquisition of performance, identity and moral anxiety with resonance far beyond its hothouse setting.
Up and coming New Zealand talent James Rolleston plays the part of Stanley, a naive newcomer drawn to the city by his passion to make it on stage. While his new best friends indulge in wilder stuff, gentle Stanley tentatively romances 15-year-old Isolde (Ella Edward).
His sweet dreams may have found their nemesis in Hannah (Kerry Fox), the school’s grandstanding senior tutor. Students must deconstruct themselves, she contends, before they can play at being anybody else. Stanley gradually bends to her taunting style, until, in one of the dazzling turns that stud the film, he earns her applause with a hilarious, treacherously accurate impersonation of his salesman father. Even murkier waters await when his class decides that a sex scandal involving Isolde’s older sister should be intensively researched for their end-of-year show.
When his drama class devises a show about the student teacher sex scandal involving Isolde's sister, Stanley faces a moral dilemma.