Nothing is the End of the World (Except for the End of the World)**** (Finborough Theatre, 23 May 2013)

Posted: May 24, 2013 in Theatre

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews: http://www.thepublicreviews.com

Set in the near future, the full title of this play is Nothing is the End of the World (Except for the End of the World). A New York High School is preparing for the admission of two new students. Both are androids who have been set the mission to integrate fully with the other students and watching the events unfold is an ever-present reality television crew. This sparkling new comedy is specifically futuristic, but the central theme – merging people who are judged to be different into established social groups – is timeless. Whilst the novelty of the scenario gives rise to much amusement, the play’s great strength is that it presents situations that are current and universally recognisable. The androids’ attempts to get to grips with teenage language and culture result in many hilarious moments, as one faux pas follows another, but the laughs are as much at the expense of the “normal” kids’ behaviour as at the awkwardness of the newcomers. The androids watch in curious bewilderment as their angst-ridden schoolmates display a typical range of the problems that affect youngsters everywhere, at any time. Adding the absurdities of reality television to the mix, the writer has gifted herself with a goldmine of targets for satire, perhaps too many to achieve a 100% hit rate, but she succeeds with several bulls eyes. Playing the androids, Dan Crow and Lisa Caruccio Came are outstanding, sporting vacant smiles that mask inner uncertainties and displaying robotic coldness that gradually gives way to emerging human emotions. The “normal” kids are also brought convincingly to life: Skye Lourie as the student body president confused by her boyfriend’s indifference to her; Christopher Webster as a star at sports who is coming to terms with his sexuality; Sheena May as a daughter of fervent Christians, struggling to reconcile her parents’ beliefs with her own role in the modern world; Natalie Kent as a free spirit, embarrassed to have contracted a sexually transmitted infection; Robin Couch as an aspiring actor, always over-playing to the cameras; and Amanda Hootman as a shy girl empathising with the androids’ desire to integrate into the group. Bekah Bunstetter is a Playwright in Residence at the Finborough and this play, which was originally commissioned by the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan, is here receiving its first fully-staged professional production. It has a vibrant energy, for which credit must go to the young cast and the Director, who is assisted by a Movement Director, Lucy Cullingford. Angus Macrae’s lively music also helps to create a futuristic, yet lightly comic atmosphere. Managing to be relevant, truly original and highly enjoyable, this production marks another feather in the cap of the Finborough, for bringing new work to the stage. Far from being the end of anything, it looks like marking the start of a number of promising careers in the theatre.

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