York Theatre Royal Young Actor’s Company (aged 18-25) present this challenging play about grief, shifting identities and the fragmentation of all that was previously familiar, following the 29 year-old Charlie’s (Dave Newton) fortunes during the limbo between Christmas and new year.
Although act two flags a little, overall, this is a slickly rehearsed, well-realized interpretation of a bold script. The 8-strong cast, who are present throughout, exhibit immense focus and stamina, seamlessly manipulating the minimal, ever-changing set, composed of brightly-coloured boxes and picture frames. This gives a film-like feel to the production, allowing the story to range across a wide variety of vignettes set in various locations, such as the London Underground, an advertising company’s offices, the pier at Southend, and a seedy bedsit.
The hero’s frustrating encounter with faceless bureaucracy is particularly memorable, as is the dramatic climax, and there are many touches of humour, but this remains a tough story for both cast and audience. It is good to see a young cast and many young faces in the audience and this bold piece of theatre certainly holds the attention, as you cannot tell where it will take us next. With strong language, drug addiction, fraud, depression, and the pressures of modern life as its themes, this is not easy viewing, but a bold piece of theatre with an uncomfortable message, presented with great clarity and commitment.