100 Miles North of Timbuktu/Honest (Bristol - Alma Tavern)
Alice Nicholas’ Honest explores the difficult transition from leaving school to stepping into the real world and the process of finding out who your friends really are. Nicholas’ script effectively shows us the insecurities and cruelty of adolescent relationships with some sharp and believable dialogue. Some secrets remain buried for a reason; sometimes unearthing them can be a dangerous thing. In a cemetery on the edge of the city two teenage girls are confronted with some hard truths and secrets which test their friendship to the limit. Into this volatile situation walks Coogan (Alex Stedman), another teenager a lot less worldly-wise than the two girls.
Night is approaching and the gates of ceremony are soon to be locked Maisie (Eleri Morgan) and Bel (Madeleine Leslay) have escaped the boredom of suburbia and parental control by sitting amongst the graves and tomb stones. Their long-standing friendship seems uneasy with resentments hinted at but never directly said. The pair are street-wise but there are hints that some of their confident bravado is a front and this is demonstrated early when Coogan jokingly attempts to frighten them with his arrival. Coogan is sweet natured and somewhat out of his depth with the two friends. During the course of the evening Coogan becomes a catalyst for deep seated issues to come to the fore and the new-comer becomes a scapegoat for much of the girl’s anger. There are touches of Lord of the Flies as mild bullying turns into something potentially a lot more serious and you are left to wonder how far the teenage protagonists will take things.
The three actors are excellent in their roles, creating clearly defined characters and subtly playing the transition in their moods as events progress. Director Alan Coveney’s energetic and atmospheric staging held my attention throughout and created real empathy for three very real characters.
Honest takes a hard but always engaging look at the difficulties of being young and how discovering the truth can often be a painful process.