By: Rosie Sharman-Ward, TRP Reviewer
This expressive, thought provoking show is a golden nugget of laughs, painful truths and coping mechanisms. It deals head on with the head’s fallen off chaos of being a teenager. Warm and relatable, even if your teenage years and those of your own kids are decades past. It should be a mandatory watch for everyone. It is about sadness and that’s ok.
Skilfully written by Luke Barnes, Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Young Company bring us the entire panoply of the struggle young people endure on their journey to becoming themselves. All with a searing honesty that is refreshing and encouraging. We see them living up to the expectations of their adults or trying to fit in with their peers, looking cool but really not feeling it. Being scared.
Directed by Amy Clarke, the show bursts on to the stage with the relentlessly cheerful We Are Happy, bright lights, shiny colours and rictus grins. One line into the song we are aware that they are far from happy. Confused, angry and terrified is nearer the mark. As the music (Adam Pleeth) and lighting shifts into a minor key we can see the swirl of emotions under the mask of “I’m fine!”
We watch the characters trying on different identities, for all the wrong reasons, to see if any fit. Party girl, outsider, boffin, over achiever, our hearts crack just a little remembering how that feels. We might even wish someone would give them a hug, ever tried to hug your teenager? You may still have scars…
The flip side of this misery is the magic of friendship. In the midst of the storm of rage against adults that don’t understand or try and shoehorn them into being someone they are not; their friends stand firm. Together in the battle of “us against the world” they take the leap away from the safety of childhood into the maelstrom of growing up.
This show deals openly with the difficult, prickly years. There is no skirting around topics such as depression, loneliness and heartbreak. Trying to balance your academic life with your social life and your hormones. It shares both hopes and fears for the future, some of which are endearingly simple.
One brilliant sketch that transcends just being a teenager and challenges everyone is the brilliant monologue by a person suffering from a debilitating illness. They are forced to endure a small life and cannot understand why people who have good health and energy don’t use it for life enhancing experiences. As they travel in their mind, we are left feeling guilty that we have not taken opportunities and wasted precious time. Definitely “a take home to consider” moment.
In everyday life we are aware that not everyone has the support of friends or back up from family. Some journeys are far more painful than others. Crippling anxiety is endemic in our society and only recently destigmatised and spoken about. Superbly acted by this group of talented young people (yes, I know – cringe!), they have a head start in negotiating their path. This brave show goes a long way to helping others do the same. The audience giving them a standing ovation, many with a tear in their eye, will go home with more understanding and that is something we all need. Sad Club is full of hope and kindness.
Cast: Oscar Houghton, Kai Woodhouse, Summer Beresford, Samuele Kilkenny-Marlton, Poppy Ashbury, Jude Ashbury, Will Deam, Josh Chudley, Lilli, Chevin, George Sawbridge, Kayleigh Page, Sophia Grinnell, Issie Sutlow, Harriet Sutlow, Mollie Waterworth, Ava Hamilton, Ella Peters, *Tyler Sterry, *Robbie Bond, *Leila Tobin, Joe Homes, *Sebastien White *Band
Lighting Design – John Purkiss, Sound Design – Dan Mitcham, Set & Costumes – Constance Villemot