The Old Red Lion in Islington boasts one of London’s oldest pub theatres, and it was packed last night (it usually is) for the press night of a new play which is billed as suitable for ages 15+. This indicated that there might be strong language, and indeed there was. The play is a two-hander, with Sarah Bryan (who is also the producer) and James Rallison playing two deeply disturbed and angry young people. And very well played it is. Much of the script (more monologue than dialogue) is very funny, with Mr Rallison in particular displaying a gift for comedy. The small auditorium was frequently rocked with laughter.
There is a curious mismatch, however, between what the blurb says that the play is about and what actually goes on. The play is supposed to be intensely political and particularly relevant in an election year, pointing up the disillusionment of the younger generation and their despair at a future that seems to offer no hope, while offering an incentive to take direct action to achieve a fairer society. Right enough, the two characters end up at a protest rally against the G8 summit, but really, their blighted personal lives, etched out with humour and some pathos too, can hardly be blamed on the government or society at large.
Symbolism is allowed full rein in the mise-en-scène. A large pool of water occupies most of where the stage would notionally be, and the two actors spend most of their time sitting on chairs in the middle of this pool, with water up to their ankles. Is that pretentious, or what? In fine, this is a play in which there is much to enjoy, except the message that the author is hoping to get across.