Blue Elephant Theatre
Reviewed – 14th November 2019
“an important play that intuitively understands the struggles of being a teenager in a toxic, image-focused society”
Alice is sixteen and eagerly waiting for something exciting to happen to her. Something that involves Fit Jamie from maths; something that proves she isn’t being left behind. But when something does happen, it is neither as exciting, nor as good, as she hoped it would be. It is something difficult. Something with consequences.
Amy Blakelock’s examination of social media, sex and teenage anxiety has all the elements of a good story: a likeable protagonist, a compelling narrative, and a shocking twist. Blakelock tells this story using an authentic teenage voice. Aspects sound a little artificial, but are mostly pertinent and always entertaining. The early parts of her script are full of faux maturity, sprinkled with clichés about how GCSEs can’t be all that – ‘Dad only got one O Level, and that was in woodwork’ – and the definitive list of what men (read: teenage boys) want. Blakelock effectively deepens these themes as the story grows darker, forcing the audience to reflect on the damage that such highly promoted ideals can do.
Robyn Wilson is endearing as Alice, full of energy and openness that makes her easy to connect with. Her delivery is subtly humorous in its naïveté, but still ripples with emotional honesty. The highlight of Wilson’s performance is her portrayal of Alice’s response to the event, in which these ripples become torrents that chill the observer.
Another aspect that deserves praise is Verity Johnson’s set, which acts as a clever metaphor for the themes of openness and shame. Four white platforms and a set of lockers become hiding places for painful aspects of the past that lie in wait until Alice is ready to reclaim them.
The main issue is the pace of the show: whilst it creates a character arc and a satisfying conclusion, this comes at the expense of close examination. There are several aspects of this story that I feel could have been expanded on. It would have been interesting, for example, to see the consequences faced not only by Alice, but by the perpetrators. Even this moment in Alice’s story feels a little vague, as her interactions with teachers, counsellors and the police pass us by in quick succession. I think it would have been beneficial to interrogate how schools deal with events like this, and whether or not the outcome really reflects the seriousness of the crime. It would also have explained Alice’s new found wisdom, which Wilson beautifully exhibits in the final scene.
Despite its flaws, Easy is an important play that intuitively understands the struggles of being a teenager in a toxic, image-focused society. Whilst it may seem to be a play for teenage girls about teenage girls, it is key that this kind of story reaches everyone, so that we can, as a whole, understand the implications of this toxicity on young people today.
Reviewed by Harriet Corke
Photography by Will Alder
Blue Elephant Theatre until 23rd November
Previously reviewed at this venue: