The Young is Manchester's 24:7 Theatre Festival's first-ever devised theatre piece, which aims to explore our society, beauty, youthfulness and our perception of death.
In the space of an hour, we are propelled into a society where a new youth drug, Aeterna, is widely available; it is taken by everybody without question. Writer, Abi Hynes poses the question - if you had access to a wonder drug that not only erased the physical signs of ageing but also eradicated diseases such as cancer, AIDS and dementia - would you take it? The Young introduces us to six characters who have made a bid to lock themselves away from society in order to wean themselves off this ‘so-called' wonderdrug. This new one hour long play explores the idea of this new ‘youth' drug, its side effects and its implications on society and our needs as human beings.
The performance basement in 2022NQ, Manchester could not be a more perfect setting for The Young. The cracked white porcelain tiles and the smoky lookout windows all manage to create the ‘creepy asylum vibe' that the characters refer to frequently. Throughout the play, we hear references to Nelson Mandela, school teacher Jeremy Forrest and dementia - which all serve to recognise our current society, its constraints and also its demands.
The stylised sections in the piece work particularly well - the use of tableaus and physical theatre sequences remind us that this piece has been devised. There is a sense that these ideas have been explored well and directed together as an ensemble, and we see particularly strong performances from Julie Hannan and Lisa Marie Hoctor.
Overall, The Young is an insightful play and is ahead of its time. It explores themes around ageing and beauty, youth and culture. However, the production would have benefited from a lighter directorial hand and more subtle offerings from the actors, as the acoustics were overwhelmingly loud in parts.
The Young manages to straddle an intriguing and evocative subject, however, there is frequent overacting which makes this production quite uncomfortable at times.
- Kristy Stott