Simon Stephens’ play had a critical success when it premiered at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in 2001.
Memories of the trial of two ten-year-old boys who abducted, tortured and murdered a two-year-old boy were still fresh.
15 years on children are still killing each other; but the play no longer has the impact it had.
Stephens takes a look at the miserable lives of working class people living on bleak inner city estates. Children aren’t allowed to be children any more.
Billy (Max Gill), a 14-year-old boy, is horribly abused by Scott (Billy Matthews), an unpleasant 15-year-old lad, who rams a golf club up Billy’s rectum because Billy’s dad had witnessed a murder committed by Scott’s elder brother and reported it to the police.
Teenage bullying and violence begets more teenage bullying and violence.
Sean Holmes’ production, designed by Hyemi Shin, has a watery stage which allows the young actors to make quite a splash.
It might be acceptable to have documentary footage of monkeys in the jungle before the play proper begins; but to show the same wildlife loop over and over again throughout the performance is merely distracting.
The monkeys upstage the actors.