Trafalgar Studio 2, London SW1
Opened 1 October, 2008

Leo Richardson’s first play allegedly shows us what it’s really like to be a teenager, i.e. exactly like all those other plays/programmes/films/books etc claiming to show what it’s really like: banter, drink/drugs, awkward sexuality and even more awkward relationships. This stuff is about as audacious and edgy as those asterisks in the title. (A shit-mix is off-your-head fuel composed of jiggers of whatever booze and mixers are handy and can be nicked from home.)
LB (Lonely Boy, aww) can’t quite get himself together to get together with Raggedy Anne, who dresses emo but gets called Goth by the others. Dirty Debbie uses sex like a currency... like the Zimbabwean dollar, in fact, and in similar amounts; Bent Ben’s ambiguous (at least to himself) sexuality means that he gets to be everybody’s confidant. Aimeé-Ffion Edwards is a little too Mockney as Anne; after all, playing Debbie as a transplanted Mancunian does no harm at all to Cassie Atkinson’s performance – she and Steven Webb as Ben are the most vivacious presences on the stage. LB is played with the quiet certainty that comes with knowing that the piece is all about his issues, unsurprisingly since author Richardson plays him.
And those issues are that he’s finding it hard to deal with elder brother Harry’s coming-out, and with his own reaction to finding Harry unconscious from an overdose, which was to collapse in shock himself rather than to call an ambulance. Whatever LB and Richardson may think, though, Harry is the only dramatically interesting character here, and he gets his only significant scene an hour and three-quarters into the evening (just as, according to the programme, the play should be ending, but half an hour before it actually does so). After a couple of earlier appearances in the fantasies of Debbie and Ben, Jay Taylor’s Harry emerges as full of dangerously violent self-loathing.
Samantha Potter’s production is padded with too-obviously gratuitous dance sequences; if musicals don’t deserve choreographed curtain-call encores, a straight play certainly doesn’t. Edwards is a face from Channel 4’s acclaimed Skins, and several of her comrades were in evidence on the press night; the DVD box of both seasons of that programme will cost you less than a ticket to this play, with a fiver-odd left over for some WKD.

Written for the Financial Times.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

Return to index of reviews for the year 2008

Return to master reviews index

Return to main theatre page

Return to Shutters homepage