by Dennis Kelly.
Brockley Jack Studio 410 Brockley Road SE4 2DH To 25 April 2015.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: William Russell 14 April.
High impact consequences of a lie.
Dennis Kelly’s DNA, first presented in the 2007 Connections Festival at the National Theatre, has been performed elswhere ever since and is also part of the national curriculum. This production by Broken Heart Youth Theatre is stunning.
The ensemble cast is splendid, the play’s message as chilling and relevant about teenagers as ever. It shows how they behave in the era of CSI when paedophiles allegedly stalk the land.
DNA is preceded here by Callum, a 14-minute short film made by the company, which should be a decent calling-card for its director. Shot in Honor Oak, it is about a boy who witnesses his girlfriend being bullied on a station platform. She struggles and falls in front of a train.
Can he tell the police what happened? Will he defy the bullies who have threatened him?
But it is the play, and the cast’s performances, which make this a terrific evening of theatre. Adam is an outsider. Bullied in the woods by his classmates he falls down a covered-over shaft they have forced him to cross.
They believe he is dead and under the influence of the cleverest member of the group, tell a tale about a man lurking in the woods, a postman they have taken a dislike to, planting his DNA on Adam’s clothing to prove their story.
The group behave like the boys in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. It is not the leader of the bullies who devises the tale. Another leader of the gang emerges, new rules of behaviour are imposed, the apparently strong crumble, the apparently weak reveal unsuspected, vicious depths.
Kelly has the speech of teenagers perfectly, the unfinished sentences, the “yes but” world of young people who feel the need to find someone to take the decisions they will follow regardless of whether they believe they are the right decisions. It is enough that one of their peers, not an adult, has told them what to do.
The play has not lost its power to shock and there are revelations to take the breath away. This production does it full justice.
Cast: Joseph Ackerman, Chezney Clarke, Joseph Cocklin, Simon Every, Alice Harding, Rachel Hinds, Josef Kaplicky, Francis Lovehall, Romario Splatt, James Tarpey, Daisy Wood.
Directors: Laurence Chater, Michael van der Put.
Designer: Robin Stuart.
Lighting: Aubrey Turner.
Sound: Laurence Chater.