Live Theatre’s Youth Theatre are to be congratulated on their staging of Jonathan Like This, as in lesser hands this already overlong piece, running ninety minutes, could have seemed like a marathon.
Luckily the performances of the young cast make this a worthwhile production, with each actor bringing their character to life. Especially as the author, Lee Mattinson, has made the group of friends all too stereotypical, one gay, a Goth, a geek etc.
While the story line of Jonathan Likes This, is certainly a good one, with the whole concept of the piece set around Facebook, and the online announcement of Jonathan’s death. The shock news allows his group of friends to add their comments to his “wall” until they find Jonathan himself is placing messages. So they, and the audience, are left wondering is he actually dead or not?
But Mattinson has stretched the idea well past its natural limits. With the restrictions of the staging, basically three sets of steps, the Live Theatres small stage and no interval, the production seems to have nowhere to go. While there was a warning about the strong language, it seemed totally superfluous to the plot. It was neither convincing, as shock tactics, or in the way young people speak. We all hear bad language daily, but there seemed no reason within this story for the plot to be so littered with it. Certainly some was funny, but this is a case of less being more, for both the shock and comedic values.
Hopefully the cast of this production will go on to become the actors of tomorrow and they will have the opportunity, as they deserve, to appear at the Live Theatre again.