The Belgium theatre collective (Ontroerend Goed) has distilled the essence of adolescence and let it rip before our eyes. On entering the theatre there is a line of mismatched chairs on stage, and off stage the cacophony that only thirteen teenagers can make.
The chairs are gradually filled by teenage chaos, doing activities like balloon flicking, chalk drawing, water fights, overbalancing, lipstick applying, skateboarding, roller skating, and many other seemingly random meaningless acts juveniles engage in. The cast are wonderfully natural and self absorbed. As adult observers we could describe what they are doing as stupidly extroverted time wasting. That’s the whole point though and it becomes more emphasized when the scene ends and is immediately repeated (with excellent technical stage skills) in exactly the same anarchic pattern as before. There is a method to the madness.
Essentially this major scene is replayed thematically influenced by love, sexuality ,drugs, experimentation, wreckage, anger, growing up, roles, families and relationships. With small monologues and alternate scenes of exploration we gradually see the actions of the teenagers is like the play of young children. It’s their work and what they need to do at this stage in their lives. Even though at times they are alternately annoying, funny or confrontational it’s how they explore their changing worlds. There is breath to the drama and comedy in this deceptively simple representation that director Alexander Devriendt explores with energy and truth.. Everything superficially seems light hearted but is deeply affecting for the young people living it. One character states although we (older people) have already experienced these things “I have not done that before” so “back off!”.
The music (sound designer Stijn De Gezelle) drives much of the action, another reflection on a time in life when music is everything:- it can dictate how we feel, what we do and how we express ourselves. There is a wonderful dance/jump scene when the whole theatre vibrates with the energy of youth and the fourth wall crumbles. It probably wouldn’t have taken much to get some of the audience on stage dancing their hearts out too.
As is often the case, youth must exaggerate and push boundaries. So the last scene becomes a funny and vibrant exaggerated excess of all that went before, with huge props and actions all writ LARGE. The end leaves a messy stage full of water and paint and props, however the cast do clean it up afterwards so not all the cliches of youth are proved!
A good summary of the audience’s reaction to the eighty minute trip through the minefield of adolescence, is the comment one player makes about her friends “They’re begging for attention again and everybody fell for it”.
Until August 29. Bookings: .