Germ Free Adolescent
Reviewed – 31st October 2019
“a story which is both funny and moving, with fantastic timing and energy”
In Medway, Ollie and Ashley are about to celebrate their three month relationship. They are both sixteen. Ollie is certain that tonight is the night. He’s cooked her dinner, sent her flowers at school, which maybe he shouldn’t have done but anyway, he’s sure he’s done everything right. Only he’s paranoid that because of his leg, she won’t like him. Ashley isn’t certain she can go through with this. She’s the resident sexual health expert at school, four leaflets on every subject, always four, it’s got to be four. And what if they have sex and then – and then …
Ashley struggles with OCD. She thinks no one knows about it, and spends her life buried in her own coping mechanisms, doing her best to hide what she is dealing with. Written by Natalie Mitchell, this is a show about what normal is, or isn’t, about no one really being normal, whatever that means after all. It’s a show about young love, sex, and self-acceptance. And it talks about all this with humour.
Francesca Henry and Jake Richards as Ashley and Ollie respectively, are fantastic individually and lovely together, well directed by Grace Gummer. The relationship between them, with all its complexities, is believable throughout. They deliver a story which is both funny and moving, with fantastic timing and energy, underscored by a youth and vulnerability that the play is made by.
The two tell the story out to the audience, never quite together onstage even though they are onstage together, until the final scene, where they actually speak to each other directly.
Lizzy Leech’s set is split into four strips. A strip of that grey school corridor flooring they always use, especially in science corridors. Another strip of patterned wallpaper, grey bordering on silver. The third is dark grey, full colour, the last one grey tiles. Across its walls and the floor at various points in the piece, Kristallnacht is projected, letter by letter, spelt out as a coping mechanism.
The ending isn’t as strong or as believable as the rest of the play. Something about it feels too easy, too conclusive. But the journey we are taken on leading up to this point is an intelligent and engaging one, honest and lively as it talks about such an important issue.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Photography by Sam Wainwright
Germ Free Adolescent
The Bunker until 9th November
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: