BOYS

Thu 1st – Mon 26th August 2013

reviews

Frank Lawton

at 05:31 on 18th Aug 2013

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This show deals with the fear of the unknown, sexual politics, what it means to be young, trust, talent, suicide, friendship, idealism and dropping anything you can get your hands on. Yes that’s right, it deals with a lot. And this, depending upon how you look at is, is both the greatest flaw and the greatest asset of this script dealing with the last days of uni and the party, with all its recriminations that ensue. The multitude of personal issues the play revolves around could easily have been simmering away and building under the surface for the previous three years, and this play represents the moment of eruption. Then again it does feel rather cluttered at times, even given the 1hr 50m staging time.

This is a play about letting go and the drive to keep things as they are, to reside in the security of habit and familiarity. Predictably, at such a pressurised moment in time things fall apart, first splitting the stitches slowly and eventually violently spewing guts across the floor. Things do get messy, and the climactic scene in which all the simmering disputes explode is one of the show's highlights, with red flashing lights and pounding music fitting for a scene that tears itself apart in front of the audience.

At times this show seemed almost a parody of student living in its attempt to register as many headline issues as possible (sex, betrayal, drugs, drink, suicide etc), but there were also genuinely effecting moments scattered throughout, such as Benny’s scenes with Mack (played by Will Merrick and Patrick Fleming respectively) and the excellent Laura’s (Olivia Duffin) late night contemplations. However, one of the final scenes jarred as a result of the script; the revelation regarding Mack towards the end of the play seems most unlikely in light of the events preceding it.

Despite these flaws in the script and the attempt to perhaps do too much, this piece is lifted by the generally good quality of the acting, with Duffin and Merrick impressing in particular. Despite its flaws, this is a show worth seeing, and, with a few script tweaks, could improve drastically.

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Victoria Ibbett

at 09:00 on 18th Aug 2013

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It is the final night of university. Inside their flat the ‘Boys’ are using this conclusion as a fine excuse for a party; while outside protesters and the police come into violent confrontation over the piles of festering, uncollected trash that litter streets and homes. ‘BOYS’ is a play about responsibility and its inverse; it maps out the confrontation of distinct philosophies of individualism and reliance, as the boys and their partners viciously clash on this final night: the eve of their unpredictable post-university lives.

‘BOYS’ is a thought-provoking play that sets out to explore and to expose the dynamics at work in contemporary youth culture. Written in the wake of the student riots, and beneath the pall of the recession, ‘BOYS’ asks what young people have to live for in a society that neither recognises their hard work, nor listens to their demands.

Each of these characters offer up a different answer: Benny wants to be a part of something bigger, to join the protest and help campaign as his father did in the 1980s. Mack doesn’t go in for self-sacrifice, but rather he wants everyone to “learn to look after yourself”. Lu wants to settle down, but her boyfriend Timp just wants to party, since “the window for the party is so small, so you’ve got to make it really big.” Finally, Sophie wants to rescue love from all the mess, and Cam is a violinist who wants to choose not to succeed.

This is a play packed full of ideas and debate, which at its best moments was thought-provoking and exciting. However, although the cast were a talented group of performers, the play itself is irrevocably flawed; it is peopled with characters so stereotyped and damaged that they appear as caricatures of struggling youth. It was difficult to believe in the characters, let alone in their development during the play. A case in point was the laddish Mack who “will sleep with anything” and whose vindication at the close of the play is an entirely cack-handed attempt at introducing a spark of redemption to the otherwise doom-ridden atmosphere.

This is an interesting performance, and an arresting one. It is well performed by a talented group of actors and it is certainly better than many other shows I have seen at the Fringe. However, the play itself is pretty poor, and there is only so much a talented crew can do to improve matters.

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