It begins with the contents of a racist and homophobic Web site scrolling up the wall in projection, and ends with closed-circuit video footage of people fleeing an American high school shooting spree. In the hour or so between, we are presented with the character of Teen (Ben Duhl), your typical suburban nothing-special kid determined to prove himself special nevertheless.
Peter Morris's writing sets out neither to condemn nor to elicit sympathy for Teen and his like, not even to "explain" what drives them to what they do, but simply gives a thoughtful and articulate fictional portrait of one such. It partakes to an extent of the shadow-side of the American Dream shown in Sondheim and Weidman's Assassins, the "everybody's got the right" ethos. As Duhl's Teen scoots around the stage on an office chair, detailing but never quite elucidating his political, sexual and intellectual beliefs and experiences, the piece also suggests that in a world in which we are expected to assimilate ever more information and indoctrination at an ever earlier age, it is grimly unsurprising that the pressures of otherwise standard adolescent mixed-upness are blowing off in increasingly extreme ways.
Morris is an exceptionally skilled playwright, though as yet still prone to occasional slight overwriting which blisters the consistency of Teen's character and observations. Overall, though, this presentation by OUDS and Blue Productions is intelligent, sensitive and discreetly audacious in its general refusal to succumb to the easy orthodoxies of contemporary social demonology.
Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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