by Richard Milward adapted by John Retallack.
Northern Stage and Company of Angels Tour to 25 September 2010.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 June at Burton Taylor Studio Oxford.
Sex, violence and the city – would you Adam-and-Eve it?
Geographically, Northern Stage is the theatre for John Retallack’s adaptation of Richard Milward’s 2007 novel about Middlesbrough teenagers. But with age-profile, it’s Retallack’s Company of Angels, specialists in work for the awkward years just too old for children’s theatre, which has this story in its blood. Not to mention semen and vomit, given Milward’s material.
So this innovatory production’s a marriage made in theatrical heaven, even if it shows something closer to hell on earth. Advertised for 16+, some of its characters would be too young to watch their behaviour on stage. Or hear it; for Retallack’s innovation isn’t depicting teens in a desolate urban limbo, something hardly new.
It lies in using a style not associated with grabbing young attentions – a line-up of characters speaking intercut monologues. This eventually gives way to more active staging, with moving screens, one side painted like brightly- sprayed walls, creating restricted spaces, with holes through which lives can be overlooked. Yet there’s still a lot of narration, accompanied by stylised mime.
Shy, earnest Adam’s parents briefly appear as masked figures, his father knocking him around the room. Otherwise, this is teen-life, where Adam and lithe social success Eve are comparative innocents in their raucous social world. Their friends Burny and Debbie hang on the sidelines, while tough Gary, pounded by his inadequacies, is tipped into aggression by chemicals and Claire, unable to take what life throws at her, throws it away in despair.
It’s Adam and Eve who have the sense of self to track their way out of this counter-Eden. By presenting character rather than action early on, the script focuses the anonymous round of pubs, clubs and parties. And between the moments of group dancing, one of those young casts that suggest there’s an inexhaustible supply of first-rate new actors build a stage-world where ecstasy and sickness are the poles of social experience.
Scott Turnbull’s Adam, never less successful with Eve then when he tries going cool to impress her, and Therase Neve as the girl who reflects on experience, are outstanding. But everyone here is important in this dark Angels production.
Claire: Jade Byrne.
Burny: Dylan Edge.
Debbie: Abigail Moffatt.
Eve: Therase Neve.
Gary: Louis Roberts.
Adam: Scott Turnbull.
Director: John Retallack.
Designer: Verity Quinn.
Lighting: Graham Wilson.
Sound: Rob Brown.
Movement: Harriet Plewis.
Associate director: Mark Calvert.