It’s a pesky side effect of child stardom that the Hollywood fledgling in question is often permanently tarred by the brush of whichever movie first propelled them to fame. And so it was in the publicity for Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Harry Melling’s Peddling,which  proudly trumpets the actor-turned-playwright’s connection to the juggernaut Harry Potterfranchise, in which he played the title role’s spoilt and spiteful cousin, Dudley Dursley. Not that this credit isn’t impressive, but it does, perhaps, belie the extraordinary accomplishment of Melling as a writer. This thoroughly assured debut play is a finely crafted yet bravely unbuttoned piece that challenges perceptions of those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.

Through a potent, slam-poetry infused stream of consciousness, we are brought into the bleak yet determined world of a nameless 19-year-old Boy. Failed by the system, haunted by a childhood mangled by apathetic social workers and the brutal streets of London, this vulnerable, damaged teen is controlled by a Bill Sikes-esque “boss man” who commands a collection of discarded youths. These boys go door to door, selling household goods under the ruse of a phoney Young Offenders Programme, and it’s through the lens of this experience that...