Boys (4 Stars)


Boys
Lost Theatre
23rd to 26th Nov 2016

Review by Richard Lambert, 4 Stars ****

About the play: “On an unusually hot summer’s night, Benny and his band of compatriots – a punk, a prodigy and a poet – drink to the end of an era. With revolution and resolutions the order of the day, and time quickly running out, Benny just wants to fix everyone’s problems – and ignore his own demons at all costs. Amidst a sanitation strike in Edinburgh, the garbage keeps mounting, but there is more than the smell of rotting rubbish hanging in the air. Nostalgia soon turns to soul-searching and division as everyone’s dirty laundry is aired one last time”.

Playwright Ella Hickson
Director James Thacker

Cast
Ross Kernahan
Alex Bird
Gabrielle Nellis-Pain
Luke Farrugia
Henry Bauckham
Jenna Fincken

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The LOST theatre has been transformed into a grubby student flat of the brown-stone variety. You’re in Edinburgh at the end of year, just before some of these characters leave to venture into the big wide world. The roller coaster of student life is coming to an end with allegations and accidental slips of the tongue that betray this group of friends.

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The Set is amazing! So much detail and clutter! For some inexplicable reason the Council are not collecting the trash so there are trash bags strewn everywhere. Plus semi-deflated balloons, wrapping paper, drinks cans, along with various other fluids that get spilt during the course of the evening. And in this kitchen, the kettle works, the fridge works and the Christmas tree lights are plugged in and work. The detail in this authentic set is outstanding! Martin John Bristow (Lighting and Sound Design) and Hugh Hastie (Stage Manager) have pulled out all the stops!

And talking of lighting, the window overlooks Princes Street in Edinburgh. Clever use of exterior lighting telegraphs the time of day: morning, evening, night time, middle of night, all well executed by technique. Even the police sirens have a lighting “character” on the window.

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The star of the show for me was Alexander Bird (“Benny”). He’s slightly neurotic role and a bit of an outsider casting perspective on the other characters. His strong performance gives substance to the piece. James Thacker’s steady energetic direction sits Benny high on a fridge looking down on the carnage. James has pulled out all the stops to create a world that slowly becomes a nightmare as relationships are exposed, emotions raw, and personas eroded. We witness drug taking, drunkeness and utter selfish hedonistic behaviour. All evidenced in the destruction of the space they inhabit.

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The concept of the play is intriguing but the script gives little support to the characters. It winds its way in so many directions and side-stories that aren’t explored until eventually you don’t really invest. The main story, the elephant in the room, again is referenced, but there’s too little relevance for each of the characters. Over-long monologues drag the play out unnecessarily. Ultimately, the self-destructive nature of the characters is left without substance due to the lack of depth from the script.

This show is great fun. It’s a modern day live performance version of “The Young Ones.”

(Photo Credit David Elms)

Running Time                    150 mins (including a 15 min interval)
Age Limit                             12+
Venue                                  LOST Theatre, 208 Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2JU
Ticket Price                         £15/£10 (concessions)
Box Office                           LOST Theatre (losttheatre.co.uk), 020 7720 6897

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