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Sun, sea, sex and revellry - the tragedy would be to miss out!



Review by David Munro

I NEVER thought that I would find pleasure and a desire to praise, in an evening at the theatre devoted to the louche behaviour and lewd language of a group of teenagers - but I was wrong

Faliraki, the town, has become synonymous for the lager-loutish behaviour of British Tourists abroad, and this culture is what the new play by The National Youth Theatre sets out to explore.

We follow a group of adolescent boys and girls from their departure, (preceded by the exhortations and advice of their (real) parents), through their fortnight’s holiday until the majority of the group leave for the airport to return to the UK.

In the interim, are scenes of drunkenness, sexual innuendo and general loutish behaviour by both sexes for the hour and a half of the play.

Their debauched progression through the fortnight can perhaps be equated to the modern equivalent of the Bacchanalian revels, accompanied as it is by a Greek chorus of three white suited cabin staff, who observe and comment on the action in doggerel verse.

Played by Laura Harding, Mike Davis and Jill Crawford, they are amusing and wry commentators on the follies of youth and its consequences, and provide the thread that holds the dramatic structure of the piece together.

The tour representative is a mistress of the revels, who incites the children to even greater excesses than they can imagine for themselves, which eventually results in the death of one of them on his 21st birthday.

Rebecca Clarke injects her voluptuous personality and figure into her performance making it a well-rounded portrait of venal evil.

Each group cynically awards points for sexual success and prowess which underlies their total disregard of the humanities and their overwhelming desire to fit as much lechery and drunkenness into the short time available to them.

Despite this, the cast members manage to make each character a believable one, with an individual personality, and show that beneath the bravado and bluster and laddish behaviour, there lurks a decent human being.

Grafted on this display of group licentiousness is a love story between an under-age couple, played by Robbie Jarvis and Chrystal Candie, who manage to convey the innocence of youth, while still displaying the hesitancy and wonder of their enjoyment of their first love, despite their experiences of the wickedness of the world, which contrasts effectively with the general misbehaviour around them.

All this sounds vaguely unpleasant which, as a subject for a play, it is; but the cast enact it with such verve and freshness as to anaesthetise the Mrs Grundy in one.

They are without exception talented youngsters, who resist all temptation to overact and play their little scenes of seduction or sottishness with charm and good humour, which, while making the point of the darker side of their unlicensed hedonism, still allow you to sympathise with them, and their inherent wish to live their own lives away from parental strictures and to enjoy and express themselves in the only way they know how.

Although death sobers them momentarily, they are at the end planning to take a holiday in another resort, which presumably they intend to trash in the same way.

There are no sets, merely a bare stage with props comprised of the paraphernalia of a holiday – suitcases, beach rings, lilos, etc.

These the cast manoeuvre with dexterity to set the scene for each episode that illustrates their attempts to enjoy themselves and each other.

A Video projection denotes passage of time and place interspersed with what ook like real scenes of the behaviour which brought the resort into disrepute.

On the bare stage, the cast are directed and drilled by Paul Roseby into various formations and dance ensembles inter-cut with fragmentary dialogue 'chat ups', or individual scenes of the men planning and carrying out their drunken games and the girls similarly planning their sexual attacks on the men.

All of which successfully underscores the robotic or mindless search for pleasure and the detachment between the sexes, making them unable to form a meaningful relationship other than on for sensual gratification. H

is direction suits admirably the alienation of the hedonistic pleasure-seekers on holiday, which is emphasised in the script he fashioned with members of the company.

In my review of the Master and Margarita I deplored the fact that to me, The National Youth Theatre had lost its way from the imaginative and vibrant productions of the past.

I am delighted to report that with Faliraki they are back on course and prove that this company is still, despite momentary hiccups, a theatrical force to be reckoned with.

I hope, like Zigger Zagger, of which it is the natural successor, that Faliraki will remain in the repertory for many years and attain the same distinction and success which it so richly deserves.

Faliraki – The Greek Tragedy, devised by Paul Roseby and the NYT Company.
Director, Paul Roseby; Set Designer, Cath Pater-Lancucki; Costume Designer, Peter Breen; Lighting, Mark Doubleday; Media and Video Designer, Gavin O’Carroll.
CAST: Robie Jarvis; Chrystal Condie; Rebecca Clarke; Lizzie Pyle; Laura Harding; Mike Davis; Jill Crawford; Eleanor Lawrence; Rebecca Flint; Stacey Bland; Brigitte Voutse; Joanna Cassidy; Grant Black; Mathew Harrison; Mathew Young; Gareth Rhys; Daniel Kirrane; Robert Ostiere; Will Palmer and The Parents; Mrs Andree Black; Mr Stephen Flint; Mrs Kay Kirrane; Mrs Margot Lawrence; Mrs Marilyn Ostiere; Mr Marino Vourtse.
Produced by The National Youth Theatre.
The Studio, The Lyric Theatre, King Street , Hammersmith, London W6 0QL.
August 25 – September 11, 2004.
Evenings (not.30th Aug) 8pm
Mat. Sat. – 4pm
Mid week matinee Fri 10th Sept. 4pm.

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