by Toby Litt adapted by Gary Sefton.
Ustinov Studio To 17 November 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Post-show Discussion 1 Nov 7.30pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 01225 448844.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 25 October.
Wild minds caught in hurtling show.
Since Laurence Boswell’s Ustinov seasons began last autumn, the stage has represented an ordered, if occasionally untidy, environment. Now Ti Green’s set for Gary Sefton’s stage realisation of Toby Litt’s 2001 novel messes things up.
Gone are the rooms, the garden, of previous classics and modern American plays. Suggestions of a living-room, bedroom, an awning from somewhere mix with garish red outlines of what might otherwise be tree-branches in a mashed-up space where curtains swish and messages from the archive are typed across the space, along with the ten rules of the 12-year olds who begin by imagining themselves as latter-day Cold War warriors.
They exist in the spaces round their homes in an isolation almost as complete as that of the crash-landed boys of Lord of the Flies. Adults are unaware, never seen but intervening as amplified voices, without perception of what’s going on. There are fathers good – meaning wanting to be one of the lads – and bad, plus a pair of grandparents substituting for a missing generation.
So, Green’s set becomes a playground, for climbing, sliding and chasing, where a sofa’s hurtled around, symbol of a home disordered; a space taken over by the boys – and eventually the girl who demands she join them; Kate Lamb’s adventurous Miranda, crashing energetically into the action. A space as mashed together as their back-garden gang, where experience is a stream of existence mixing the external and imagined.
And taking a sinister turn when one of their number dies, possibly from infection arising from a game taking on an unusual physical intimacy. It’s something the survivor keeps secret for a time and which leads Andrew to turn fantasy into dangerous reality by plotting against the adults he holds responsible for the death.
As he leads others from nuisance value to dangerous activities, his own unhappy childhood expresses itself in a destructive determination that finds expression too in struggles for leadership. Leander Deeny develops all this surefootedly as command becomes obsession, his expression of innocent enthusiasm in childhood games souring to malice. And his followers are strongly played in this grippingly vivid staging.
Andrew: Leander Deeny.
Matthew: Jack Wilkinson.
Peter: Colin Ryan.
Paul: Stuart Angell.
Miranda: Kate Lamb.
Director/Video: Gary Sefton.
Designer/Costume: Ti Green.
Lighting: Ben Ormerod.
Sound/Composer: Jon Nicholls.
Associate costume: Katie Lias.