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DNA at The Drum, Plymouth

PUBLISHED: 20:59 03 February 2012 | UPDATED: 21:00 20 February 2013

DNA at The Drum, Plymouth

DNA at The Drum, Plymouth

Impressive new production presents a startling tale of teenage cruelty

After taking an episode of bullying too far, a group of teenagers try to cover their tracks. But when the tale theyve spun has unexpected results, and subsequently takes an unforeseen turn, their ingenuity and appetite for malevolence must step up a gear.

In its study of pack mentality, DNA is sharp and funny, and thoroughly shocking. Writer Dennis Kelly jumps into the debate on irresponsible youth and the concomitant violence and shows us the worst-case scenario. You want feral teens, morally vacant and shameless in the pursuit of their shallow desires? Well, here they are in spades. And all this pre-dating last years riots by four years. A timely revival, then.

This is a slick production, utterly compelling, and without exception, the performances are faultless; particularly good is Leah Brotherhead playing her namesake, the one voice of reason amid the escalating madness. James Alexandrous Phil, controlling his friends from his grassy knoll, is the eminence gris of the piece he picnics his way silently through the tumult until called upon to offer dark and increasingly gruesome solutions to his classmates problems. The constant eating is a nice touch (I dont know if its in the original text or a production decision); it adds a neat Freudian element and reminds us that these characters are children, undeveloped and unrestrained.

The Drum saw a full house for the second night of this touring Hull Truck production, mainly teenagers, DNA being a core set-text on the GCSE English syllabus. The script is flab-free, a blacker than black comedy. At one point, tension building to 11 as the characters skins are increasingly on the line, Phil outlines his instructions by demonstrating asphyxiation by plastic bag on Brian, the weakest member of the murderous group, himself driven to medicated near-insanity and the audience went wild with uproarious laughter. In a post-show talk, the cast said they were pleased by the reaction, as laughter alleviates the bleakness. What could be more bleak than hearing a group of teens splitting their sides at the casual, predatory cruelty of a group of teens? Absolutely chilling.

DNA is at The Drum, Plymouth, until 4th February and then on tour until end-May

Tickets: 01752 267222 or online at www.theatreroyal.com

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