Kiss/Marry/Push Off Cliff

Josh Azouz
Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School
National Theatre (Dorfman Theatre)

Company with Annabelle Francis-Baker (centre) as Marco Credit: Jimmy Lee
Louis Howley as Franky the Dog Credit: Jimmy Lee

This is one of the ten plays commissioned for this year’s NT Connections , the nationwide annual festival for which the National Theatre commissions playwrights to develop plays through workshops with young people which school and youth theatre companies then stage at local festivals in collaboration with 33 partner theatres with one production of each play chosen from the 262 companies that took part for performance at the National Theatre. Connections isn’t a competition but a showcase, a showcase that develops skills and encourages diversity.

Dramatist Josh Azouz (perhaps best known for One Upon a Time in Nazi Occupιed Tunisia and The Mikvah Project ) presents a group of sixth-form friends who are celebrating the end of their school life and cementing their past friendship by camping out together on the cliffs near Beachy Head, but their past bonding now sees fragmentation. One of them has done or said something the others found unacceptable.

They have decided to ask Marco (Annabelle Francis-Baker) to leave. Exactly why is something no one wants to detail. Is it because he kissed Kiara (Jessica Yerby)? It seems not, though he appears to have a boyfriend: is he upset? Marco clearly doesn’t think before he opens his mouth. “You don’t have a filter,” they tell him.

This is a play that questions what is appropriate behaviour and how you judge others. When ostracised Marco encounters Noush (Charlotte Ames), another school leaver from his year, camped out alone but wanting him to move on after their chat because she “has things to do,” her location gives him the wrong idea, or perhaps not, for perhaps that is what triggers his actions when he goes back to the sleeping camp that ejected him.

Some of these young performers lack projection and they often talk too fast for comprehension (or for the surtitles to catch up), but when this generally dark story draws bursts of laughter, its young audience clearly identified with some situations. Stylised movement blended in smoothly, its meaning was not always clear but especially effective as those against Marco seemed to magically multiply. Turning a flashlight beam into a projected moth proved equally effective while there is a sparkling performance from Louis Howley as Franky, a biscuit-obsessed dog who throws his own take on the humans.

What is clear is the effort, the energy and the imagination that have created this production. Positive evidence of the stimulus that NT Connections provides.

Reviewer: Howard Loxton

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