HOME PAGE |
ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
BOOKS and CDs
See links at top of our Main Page
LETTERS TO EDITOR
FILM & TV
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London Review
It is visually riveting to watch as the stage managers set up numerous doors to represent a floor of a block of flats or a bus shelter or some road works or trees for a park. The process of changing these things has an exciting and transfixing momentum all of its own. These props form the London environment in which school leaver Liam (Frankie Fox) finds himself at a loss. The statistics are there: those achieving least well academically at school are white boys from the working classes. They are the neglected group, no-one's priority.
So Liam travels from the doctor's to the park, to the bus stop, past the road works, to a sports shop where he can't afford the trainers, to the housing department and the job exchange. He tries to connect with a friend from school speaking, an unintelligible to us, street dialect which he perceives as cool. He encounters a homeless girl in the tube but he belongs nowhere.
At the bus stop he sees some feisty black girls who are eating chips but he can't connect. Liam's mobile is for show only, it has no battery in it. The road workers speak to each other in Polish. Tourists are at the bus stop. In Sainsbury the checkout machine intones "Unexpected item in the bagging area.
This production is sponsored by the Almeida and "Arsenal in the community", a charitable initiative from the famous North London football club to help with youth culture and youth unemployment in the area. Many of the young cast are making their stage debut. What director Sasha Wares has created is a realistic series of snapshots set in the city, recognisable but isolating, with Liam, seeking something but not sure what that is. He has no money, no support. Gareth Fry's soundscape is so relevant and evocative of the noises of the city.
The furious activity of installing and removing the props contrasts with Liam's own lack of purpose, identity and companionship. The audience too will find themselves easily distracted, shamed that they cannot address the issues for 17 year olds like Liam. Boy is compelling theatre.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.