A Hull Truck Production – Directed and designed by Anthony Banks (National Theatre)
With an audience barely able to remember the ‘90’s – 80% due to age, 20% to student parties, this recent addition to the GCSE English syllabus doesn’t pull any punches.
Literally – this group of teenagers who hang out together in the woods, do something so bad – so disgusting (for a laugh) that I nearly walked out after the first five minutes. But then I remembered that GCSE set texts are supposed to be provocative. They need to give students the space to allow their minds to breathe. They need to give plenty of scope for discussion. This play does all of the above in spades.
“I’m going to be a dentist, this wasn’t part of the plan”.
In days gone by it would have been ‘Lord of the Flies’ or ‘Shallow Grave’, and while I’m not convinced it is in the same league, it’s certainly a modern twist for today’s audiences.
In doing something really bad, the group find a new kind of unity as they cover their tracks and start to enjoy the attention. Unfortunately they cover their tracks a bit too well and an innocent man is framed.
While the group piles lies on top of lies, the bonds begin to break as individual members go mad, find Jesus and do a bunk.
I have to say I wasn’t completely convinced by the casting. They just seemed a bit too old and nice(?) to play such vile characters – other than Elexi Walker (Cathy) who scared the living bejesus out of me.
I also wasn’t wild about the dialogue come monologue between motor mouth Leah (Leah Brotherhead) and silent Phil (former East Enders actor James Alexandrou) who ploughed his way through a carrier bag full of crisps, coke and sweets while Leah prattled on about Bonobo’s. Had it been me, Leah would have been the one left down a dark hole, not their ‘friend’ Adam. However, there were plenty in the audience who were laughing out loud, so it obviously tickled some.
Although I found the link to DNA a bit tenuous, I was a big fan of the backing screen which at the start showed crackly cascades of DNA sequences, a double helix and the words ‘deoxyribonucleic acid’. Moving forward, the cast appeared and disappeared from behind the screen’s panels, as forest and sky were projected onto them from the front.
If this play is meant to provoke discussion, it has certainly done that. Disturbed – yes. Confused – yes. I’m off to get the Letts Revise Guide!
DNA is showing in The Studio at The Royal Exchange Theatre, St Anne’s Square, Manchester from 20th – 24th March 2012.
Evening Performance Times Tuesday – Friday, 7.30pm, Saturday, 8.00pm
Matinee Performance Times Saturday 4.00pm
And then at these venues:
|Tue 17 – Sat 28 Apr||Unicorn Theatre, London||020 7645 0560|
|Mon 30 Apr – Wed 2 May||Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough||01723 370541|
|Thu 3 & Fri 4 May||The Civic, Barnsley||01226 327000|
|Tue 8 & Wed 9 May||Watford Palace Theatre||01923 225671|
|Thu 10 – Sat 12 May||Tobacco Factory, Bristol||0117 902 0344|
|Mon 14 – Wed 16 May||The Egg, Theatre Royal Bath||01225 823409|
|Thu 17 – Sat 19 May||Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne||01323 412000|
|Mon 21 – Wed 23 May||Lyceum Theatre, Crewe||01270 686777|
|Thu 24 – Fri 25 May||Hawthorne Theatre, Welwyn Garden City||01707 357117|