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
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
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,
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
August 25 – September 11, 2004.
Evenings (not.30th Aug) 8pm
Mat. Sat. – 4pm
Mid week matinee Fri 10th Sept. 4pm.