The Storyteller Sequence
Philip Ridley is best known for his in-yer-face plays that still have the capacity to shock even hardened audience members after a couple of decades of consistently hard-hitting playwriting and long after the genre’s heyday.
However, he also presents a different face to the world as a compelling writer of dramas for young people, typically teenagers of 15 or so.
This collection contains five plays for younger audiences that form a logical sequence, broadly telling similar stories in different fashion.
The good news is that The Storyteller Sequence is very hard to put down once one gets into the storytelling.
Philip Ridley and Alan Bennett may come from different ends of the theatrical spectrum but the opening play in the set, Karamazoo, is a well-crafted youth-directed equivalent to the Talking Heads series that made Bennett so popular with TV and radio audiences.
Ridley even offers two for the price of one as there are female and then male versions of Ace, a gorgeous 15-year-old diva who knows it.
The female version bitches about the boy who is late for their date and, for good measure, the class fat girl and even her best friend and confidant.
Ridley cleverly unfolds the tragedies hidden beneath the immaculately prepared skin in a skilful piece of writing.
The male equivalent may not visit Narcissus ‘r Us, the local beauty parlour, but in every other sense he tells the same story in similar fashion but in doing so adds to the impact of a short but telling piece.
Fairytaleheart, which follows, goes over very similar ground but looks at the world through the eyes of a duo, Kirsty and Gideon.
They meet in a derelict building and gradually share unhappiness over the waywardness of their parents, each of whom is single and lonely.
In Sparkleshark, the canvas is expanded to feature a cast of nine, who between them expose the horrors of bullying and loneliness for teenagers.
Once again, storytelling is at the heart of a fine play that explores the difficulties of those awkward mid-teen years with frankness and an uncanny ability to get beneath the (pimply) skin and address the concerns of that age group.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher