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Apples (Bristol Old Vic)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Thank goodness I am not 15 years old if this is what a taste of teenage life is like. Apples is a story of six 15-year-olds living in Middlesbrough. It is packed with horrendous tales of drunkenness, drugs, rape and violence; and yet somehow I was thoroughly entertained and would recommend it to anyone (open-minded and over 14!).

This Northern Stage & Company of Angels co-production is the first stage adaptation of the Richard Milward book Apples, and has been directed and adapted by John Retallack. The book was only published three years ago and was written when the author was just 19. It received rave reviews internationally, hence its fast track to the stage; and, looking at the age range of the audience, quite right too, as it has clearly attracted younger groups who might not often spend an evening at a theatre.

It tells the story of Adam (shy, introverted and sexually inexperienced) and Eve (the opposite), and their school friends and colleagues Claire (drunk, raped and pregnant), Gary (an horrific thug, rarely conscious of his actions), Debbie and Ben. We see out their exploits and they narrate their thoughts and reaction to the events that unfold. It is graphic and shocking, and yet also genuinely funny. Despite their hideous qualities, we are also sympathetic – to Adam, with his OCD and his beatings from his dad, and to Eve, with her mum dying of lung cancer. Whether as adults they will have learnt from their teenage mistakes and turn out alright, we are left to draw our own conclusions. p> The six young actors are all very good all playing the roles perfectly. Stand out performances come from Therase Neve (Eve), Scott Turnbull (Adam) and Louis Roberts in the unenviable role of Gary. Jade Byrne (Claire), Abigail Moffatt (Debbie) and Dylan Edge (Ben) complete this excellent cast.

They are complemented by simple but really effective staging, with excellent use of screens and occasional masks for the actors; and with an evocative playlist of music and beautiful lighting design, by Graham Wilson.

Apples runs until 30 June at the Bristol Old Vic Studio, and then touring, see www.applestheplay.co.uk for details.


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