Nightflyer – Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Review by Sarah Tinsley

A play with aspirations of uncovering the hidden angst of the teenage experience that didn’t quite hit the mark. It’s a bold move, making a play about a group of drunk teenagers. They’re not known for their interesting conversation. However, there are some moments of great comedy here, and the genuine awkward emerging feelings that they don’t know what to do with.

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Photo Credit James Woodhams

Spook is out cold. His mates argue over his prone body – should they take him home, stick him on the Nightflyer (the bus), or go on to the club, Eden? Cue the entrance of Spook’s ex-girlfriend and mate to ramp up the sexual tension and add to the general emotional drama.

There were some genuinely funny moments. Mostly produced by the drunk guy on the floor (Jack Cottrell), who was a very convincing inebriate. There were some great bits of comic timing when his character slurred along with the general conversation. The most visceral and cringeworthy moments were sexual, between Hannah (Hannah Kelly) and Blowtorch (Harvey Bassett). The fumbling immediacy of teenage sexual urges were delightfully awkward and amusing.

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Photo Credit JROD Photography 

I did appreciate the attempt at capturing such a difficult time of life. Navigating your way from playground to adulthood is an ugly experience, and none of them are getting it quite right. Chloe is the attention-seeking girl who finds validation in sex, Jamster (Matthew Emeny), the confused gay man who doesn’t know how to admit his sexuality to himself or those around him, and Gennette (Anishka Klass), a seemingly dumb girl who is hiding a tortured home life. And that, perhaps, was part of the problem. Stuffing so many issues into such a short play meant that none of them could be properly explored or dealt with, and the characters tended to blurt out their terrible confessions, and then on we went. Perhaps Martin Malcolm could have chosen one or two to really focus on, rather than trying to fit in so many.

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Photo Credit Alex Knight

The performances were sincere, funny, and at times touching. I was less convinced by the accents. It’s understandable that they are somewhere like Bristol. A smaller town traps the characters in a world with limited horizons, but unfortunately not all of the actors could convincingly pull off the accent throughout the play.

The stark setting and throbbing dance music in the background highlights the bleak nature of the characters’ life and the stark experience they have of pretending to be adults in a confusing world. An interesting concept that fell short of its aims.

Nightflyer – Lion and Unicorn Theatre

★★

Review by Sarah Tinsley

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