Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Chewing Gum Dreams at RADAR 2012 - review

Written by: Tom Woods (@Thomas_E_Woods)

Where did Woods watch it? 
Bush Theatre, London
Was Woods won over? 

When was the last time that you felt old? Chewing Gum Dreams By Michaela Coel takes its audience back to school in a hilarious, poignant and occasionally sadly nostalgic tale about the 67 Bus, playground gossip and sex.

With minimal set and only one actor on stage, it could be a difficult play to carry, and in any larger theatre it might well not work; but Michaela Coel manages it beautifully, keeping up energy throughout, switching seamlessly between characters, causing outbursts of laughter in one moment before reducing the audience to a stunned silence moments later.  Written as a monologue it chronicles the daily trials of a London state school teenager and her classmates. Through rapid change of character we hear gossip about how Candice is pregnant, and whom you can buy emergency contraceptives from on the playground. 

Although one or two characters feel a bit unrealistic at times, by and large they are spot on, and it is always easy to tell whom Michaela Coel is representing at any given time. The sound design (Chris Bartholomew and Jay Jones) really helps here too, giving a sense of place to an otherwise bare stage.

As a comedy, it triumphs, but there are equally some very haunting sad moments; when Tracey Gordon relives Aaron abusing her in the corridor, the sound and lighting work brilliantly to create one very surreal and sinister moment on stage.  This technique is used throughout in other bombshells, and it works well, breaking up the laughter to give pause for thought as one by one Tracey Gordon’s last moments of innocence disappear forever.

A wonderfully crafted piece of theatre that offers a truly exhilarating emotional journey, this is definitely one to watch.

RADAR 2012 runs until 22 November 2012. 
@BushTheatre #RADAR2012

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