by Dennis Kelly.
Tour to 25 May 2012.
Runs: 1hr 10min No interval.
Review: Alan Geary 20 February at Lakeside Arts Nottingham.
Hull Truck are well on form here.
Since DNA is a thriller it’s difficult to substantiate the claim without revealing too much, but Hull Truck Company are well on form here. A group of run-of-the-mil- youths do something unspeakable and try to cover it up by framing someone else.
But this is not simply your routine piece of entertainment, though it certainly entertains. Playwright Dennis Kelly has come up with a realistic and penetrating depiction of important features of group psychology: it’s about the way all of us, not just young people, function as an in-group even when we haven’t particularly transgressed. And by way of bonus there are some black laughs.
It’s a compelling script, at times taut and sharply cinematic, sometimes poetic. When one of the girls comes on and says in fluent Soapish “We’ve got to talk!” you just know it’s not Kelly lapsing into shoddy writing: it’s the way some soap-influenced people actually speak for real.
Director/Designer Anthony Banks brings in some first-class back projection (Andrzej Goulding) to facilitate scene changes as crisp and cinematic as the script. And penetrating background music (Alex Baranowski) is effectively used to heighten the tension.
Even more crucially, Banks deploys eight fine young actors, all playing somewhat below their ages. James Alexandrou is first-rate as the terrifying ring-leader, and ritual eater aptly named Phil. Leah Brotherhead plays Leah, his apparent love interest, some of whose moral sense seems to remain intact despite everything. Tom Clegg in more than one role, with a significant speech near the end, is splendid.
It’s easy to see why this play is being widely deployed in schools – think Lord of the Flies.
Phil: James Alexandrou.
Richard: George Brockbanks.
Leah: Leah Brotherhead.
Lou: Emily Butterfield.
Danny: Tom Clegg.
Brian: Daniel Francis-Swaby.
John Tate: Rhys Jennings.
Cathy: Elexi Walker.
Director/Designer: Anthony Banks.
Lighting: James Mackenzie.
Sound/Composer: Alex Baranowski.
Projection/Video: Andrzej Goulding.