24:7 Theatre Festival at 2022NQ
Unrelated to the social networking site of the same name, My Space sees young black boy Leeroy (George Oluyinka) from Stratford (the one in London) moving to the countryside, where he meets up with dizzy Stacy (Laura Ogden), who specialises in putting her foot in it, Claire (Sophie Toland) and moody Trigg (a boy—the name is Danish—played by Kamran Darabi-Ford).
Lee steals a spade from Old Harry's (Kenneth Alan Taylor) garden as Trigg has a wacky idea to build a skateboard ramp, but this gets them into trouble with the police, and they end up serving a community sentence by tending Harry's garden, while Harry gives them instructions and talks to his dead wife Lilian, occasionally seen in flashbacks.
The play is really just a sequence of scenes of teenagers chatting and doing very little, many of which end abruptly or peter out disappointingly. What little conflict there is comes from nowhere and goes nowhere: Harry's racist language is brushed off by the person at whom it was aimed; minor arguments flare up that are immediately resolved. Of course they're all mates by the end, but it doesn't add up to a story.
Harry's own story shows us through flashbacks him meeting his late wife, but even this story doesn't have enough substance to make us care. He is an old man who is grumpy with the kids of today until he mellows after spending time with them (Goodnight Mr Tom?), talks about the war and evacuation and talks to his late wife. The biggest cliché of all is the ending for Harry, which I won't give away, but even that is left hanging without showing the effect on the other characters.
Writer Louise Monaghan has an impressive list of playwriting prizes behind her (including Papatango and Bruntwood) but this script is too vague to create a world we can believe in and too predictable for us to care what happens next.
Reviewer: David Chadderton