National Youth Theatre’s First Timers season demonstrates two key fundamentals:
it is generously funded – witness the glossy programme and the production
values – and there is no shortage of theatrical talent in the student
generation. Both are causes for celebration. Should any sceptics be in danger
of underestimating what’s on offer here, when all eyes are on Edinburgh, a
visit to the Soho Theatre is to be advised.
look so good on all fours” says Ffion’s boyfriend in the first play of this
double-bill, and, sadly, Ffion, whose only real ambition is to be a glamour
model, takes this as a compliment. She is delighted to find herself as a
screensaver on schoolfriends’ mobiles, and rapidly progresses to a ‘meeting’ in
the local Starbucks where a young sleazeball who still lives with his mum
advises her to get a boob job if she really wants to succeed. She hands over
£200 in cash to join the ‘agency’ and, needless to say, goes through with the
necessary operation only to discover that her image will be photoshopped out of
recognition anyway. Celebrity magazines come in for some stick here as
Tits examines the generation who see their bodies as
sculptable expressions of their worth to society. Easy dramatic targets, and a
somewhat predictable storyline, but deftly written and very fetchingly played
by Gwyneth Keyworth as Ffion and Lizzi Connolly as her friend Cheryl.
second play, Teeth, plumbs deeper psychological depths,
dealing with a girl, Louise, who discovers that her self-hatred stems from a
condition called body dysmorphia. Again the two central roles are beautifully
played by Sophie Ward as Louise and Ria Zmitrowicz as Cassie. They catch
completely the stubbornness and bewilderment of two sisters who are unable to comprehend
what lies beyond the immediately physical. Both plays, by Michael Wynne, author
of The Knocky and The People Are Friendly
(Best Comedy nomination, WhatsOnStage Awards), have an appealing freshness and
vitality and are tellingly directed by Anna Niland.
the luxury of a vast pool of performers to call upon, both plays feature a
chorus-like ensemble of gym members, dancers, doctors and nurses, who add a surreal
touch to the inner churnings of the adolescent minds (choreography and movement
by Cristina Avery and Imogen Knight, respectively).
is only one programme in a series of five at this address. A promising