Unfortunately, the play failed to act as a vent or even as a portrayal of a sense of bubbling anger beneath the surface of a downtrodden British youth culture. What principally came across in the detached, super-fast line delivery was a sense of falsity. The characters did not convince and thus failed to evoke empathy or sympathy, with the lines being delivered so fast that at times they lost their meaning.
The message is that children today are not well - unlike the carefree youths of yester-year (if youths have ever been carefree). Instead they’re just as burdened with anger and fear as adults. The problem with this message is that it simply didn’t ring true. It felt like we were watching a script reading, with the characters appealing all too frequently to the audience, leaving the action floating and using ill-timed and exaggerated gestures.
Perhaps the acting could be said to have been pushing at a Brechtian-style detachment, forcing us as audience to judge. The punk rock music in between scenes too hinted at a desire by the director to force us to question, to evoke rage. The impressive set, a looming and claustrophobic library, would add to this style. Oddly though, the scenery’s aged-look and grandeur detract from the apparent modernity of the play and frame the action in a slightly confusing time warp.
One act to mention is Rupert Simonian as the unassumingly deranged William Carlisle; a National Youth Theatre-trained actor, he is one to watch. He looks beguilingly young and sweet with his floppy hair, and his performance accelerates in quality and passion throughout the play.
Having said much in a negative vein, I do think the play has merit in being accessible and original. Seeing an entire cast of actors aged around the 20 mark gives a rare sense of excitement and energy to a play. Sadly though, it just felt to me that the characters were underdeveloped. I left unsure of what the characters' various issues actually were - and not caring either.