Drayton Arms Theatre
Reviewed – 5th March 2019
“there are simply too many missteps to understand what is being said and to whom”
Six sixteen-year olds battle love, sex, faith and philosophy against their hormones. Chazza is cheating on Fletch with Zac who’s going out with Jess who’s in love with Hope, and April wants nothing to do with it but does end up marrying Fletch. The story switches between early noughties and the present day so don’t worry, these aren’t spoilers.
I liked the premise and thought this may be casting a wry eye backwards on the millennial’s formative years. Unfortunately, the writing is too slight to carry its themes and the young company struggle to make much stick.
The press night felt seriously under rehearsed. Actors often started their scenes before the music transitions played out. Moments of fantasy are marked by a spotlight, but on all occasions the actors were too far upstage of it and essentially playing in the dark. And almost all of the young cast struggled with simply getting the words out of their mouths.
That’s not to say there’s no good here. Suzie Voce stands out a mile as the sexed up sixth-former bringing a confused confidence and vulnerability behind the bonhomie. Anthony Portsmouth is also good fun with his cartoon version of young, male adolescence.
It’s really in the second act of Staying Faithful where the execution moves from fun, if a little predictable, to completely ill conceived. Loose ends are suddenly sawn off in a string of two-handers that present and resolve conflict in moments. There’s a life altering showdown at a party that came and went and a (sort of) twist ending which did little to draw a line under things.
The charge must be laid at the writer’s door. The problem is that nothing is buried in Rosanna Foster’s storytelling. Motives, twists, emotions and desires all swill about on the surface making it very difficult to discern one story thread from the other. Everybody says what they want and feel all the time. Secrets aren’t kept for more than a few lines. If the characters were wilfully vacuous that may actually play well, but Foster is clearly going for something more involved here.
With proper editing and perhaps the introduction of a dramaturg there may be the makings of an unapologetically middle of the road love song to the Bacardi Breezer generation. As it stands though, there are simply too many missteps to understand what is being said and to whom.
Reviewed by Paul Pinney
Drayton Arms Theatre until 9th March
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