by Dennis Kelly
Southwark Playhouse (The Little) 77-85 Newington Causeway SE1 6BD To 17 May 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 10min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7407 0234.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 3 May.
Superbly acted images of life around the rubble.
No surprise the super-fluent Dennis Kelly’s first play should be revived ten years on, still south of the river (Debris was premiered at Battersea’s Theatre 503). No great surprise it should receive a production as good as Abigail Graham’s, with two smart performances, technically accomplished and giving reality to characters with little external context – and what there is, extreme.
For there are many good young actors and directors fighting for a view in London. What marks-out Openworks Theatre is that they are determined to make theatre more widely available and focus on two practical ways to make this happen.
To help more people be aware theatre’s around for them, ten young local people become involved with the production and start spreading news about it, as something for their friends to go and see. And it’s cheap; there could be a ticket going for £3 somewhere near you as Openworks pioneers the pop-up box office, selling cheap tickets in places people use. (These tickets cost less than the charges some theatres pile on the basic price).
If they can sustain this, proving it works, they ought to win an award for their inventiveness. And for their work onstage, if this first production is a guide. A series of scenes, with images of childhood described by young minds conditioned by unkind and abusive experience, build a pattern contrasting hope and destruction. The long opening monologues for Michael and Michelle recount the painful deaths of parents which happened simultaneously with their own birthday and actual birth.
Later scenes develop surprise, mayhem and sudden violence, the context for young people coming to terms with this society. Signe Beckmann’s rubbish-pile of bricks not only makes staying on their feet a triumph for the actors in itself, but signifies the instability of life where the world around them is debris, and children themselves are regarded as little, if any, more by the adult world.
Then, defying all this, Debris is revealed as a baby’s name. Whatever the waste, however much adults throw life away, there’s always the hope of something new – Debris out of the debris.
Michael: Harry McEntire.
Michelle: Leila Mimmack.
Director: Abigail Graham.
Designer: Signe Beckmann.
Lighting: Jack Knowles.
Sound: George Dennis.
Movement: Jennifer Jackson.
Dialect: Jan Haydn Rowles.