YO YO
Warehouse Theatre, Croydon
Opened 30 April, 1995

Croydon's Warehouse Theatre celebrates ten years of its South London Playwriting Competition with a short season of previous winners, beginning with Dino Mahoney's keenly phrased but structurally unsatisfying 1994 play about tortured relationships in the worlds of adolescence and adulthood.

Teacher Kevin, spending a weekend in a small Cornish town on an access visit to his son, finds himself adopted by a fourteen-year-old boy calling himself Lego. Lego's smiling, never-say-die attempts to ingratiate himself carry a palpable air of desperation, and also a strong current of flirtation he seems unable to conceive of friendship with an adult without a sexual element. The history he recounts to Kevin is belied in his scenes with his mother, tetchy landlady Sandra.

Daniel Newman makes an accomplished stage debut as Lego, conveying the underlying edginess of his approaches to Kevin whilst maintaining an unbroken surface of smiles and patter. Alan Perrin's performance as the teacher reflects the unevenness of Mahoney's writing: too stuck in the mode of polysyllabic grown-up in the first act, too readily descending into drunken, shambolic candour after a couple of cans of Special Plot-Device Brew in the second. Sandra, trying uncertainly to square her family and business circles, is fleshed out by Kim Taylforth from the script's decidedly secondary prominence to suggest a rounded character uncannily reminiscent of sister Gillian's televisual persona.

Jessica Dromgoole's direction smoothes over the hiccups in Mahoney's structure, but can do little surgery upon the final minute of the play. Its major revelation, explaining Lego's distress and imbalance, is tossed in as a final hand-grenade rather than being placed at the core of the piece; the net effect is of a soap-style cliff-hanger. It is a low dramatic blow which may make more sense in the context of the full trilogy of which Yo Yo is the first part, but the feeling of irresolution it generates smacks less of deliberate craft than timidity on the writer's part. Nevertheless, a promising work given a fine production.

Written for the London Evening Standard.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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