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Morning (Edinburgh)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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"Philosophers have only interpreted the world," said Karl Marx, "the point is to change it." This rousing slogan is daubed by seventeen year-old Stephanie on the plastic sheeting that covers her mother's deathbed.

It's an unlikely, out-of-character statement, and she follows with a speech of nihilistic despair: there is no connection between anything, no message. We could recycle. We could refuse to recycle. There is only terror. There is no hope.

Morning is this week's new play from the irrepressible Simon Stephens, written for the Lyric Young Company at the Lyric, Hammersmith (where it opens after the festival), directed by Sean Holmes and including some remarkable, neutralised performances from Scarlet Billham as Stephanie, Joana Nastari as her best friend Cat and Ted Reilly as the boyfriend they share in some spooky, dangerous sex games on the eve of Cat's departure to university.

The boyfriend is swathed in plastic sheeting, too, and the dead-end, bored behaviour of the girls, who are middle-class and self-centred, politically unengaged, a terrifying signal of what's going on, perhaps, an amoral endgame.

Stephanie has a young brother, too, and another "best friend" on roller skates, whose boyfriend she also weirdly propositions. A musician sits at an electronic keyboard in the middle of the stage. There's also a large fridge.

Is this a new Saved, another Blasted? Possibly, somewhat self-consciously so. But it seems more likely that Stephens is turning back on his powerful Punk Rock school play, absorbing a few newspaper headlines and continuing his sickly fascination with the sexual kinkiness of the German-speaking theatre. Morning has broken, and it's not a pretty sight.

(Photo: Marc Brenner)


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