I went last night to see a youth theatre production of an Edward Bond play yesterday night. It was a fairly eccentric choice of material for a youth theatre which caters predominantly to working class kids. I've never been a massive fan of Bond. The piece was written in the early 70s and was billed as a comedy, but the language was way too indulgent and whimsical to actually be funny. There's something about British theatre from that era which I find very difficult to stomach. It's rarely narrative driven, the characters are often unlikeable and there's always a sense that the language overrides the need for plot or anything that I actually look for in theatre. It's like nothing ever happens. There are none of the outbursts of passion and anger that young people do so well. If I were running a youth theatre in London, I would almost definitely stick to a diet of plays by modern London writers like Che Walker: dramas with roles and language which play to the strength of the kids. There were some really talented kids though, and they were really, really brave to tackle a piece so complicated and nuanced.
There was a fairly amusing scene beforehand. We were talking to the director of the piece outside the theatre when one of the actresses came out of a side door in full costume and make up. "What are you doing out here?" The director asked. "I just need to pop to the shops," said the girl. "You shouldn't be out here in costume. Go back inside." "I need some nuts. I haven't eaten anything since yesterday." "Well that's very silly of you! Go down to the bar and see if they've got some crisps." The girl, at that point, decided to play her trump card, blithely, or maybe triumphantly announcing, "I have bulimia." It's one of those announcements which the kids make these days which they know can't be ignored. It felt incredibly cynical and quite calculating. She didn't like being challenged by authority, so she dropped the b bomb. I've heard dyslexia being used in a similar way. And depression. And because, as a society, we pander to these things, they get away with if. There's a sense of entitlement amongst the young which is really quite grotesque. I think it's because they're paying for everything. If you have to pay £9k for tuition, you want to know exactly how you're going to get the qualification you've paid for with minimum effort.