Set in Romford, Essex, we follow a number of characters and conversations centering on one horrific event. A teenager…maybe 16 or 17…a young man…has been burned to death. His body lies charred and unrecognizable at the War Memorial Gardens. This is as much a murder mystery as it is a hilarious comment on teenage angst in an online world- A Local Boy, written by Dan Murphy, was a treat and a shock to the system.
You are immediately at home with the writing in the play, consisting of those early MSN chats and the obsession over what boys look for in a girl and everyone remembers drinking vodka straight from the bottle – it was the done thing.
Funny and engaging with a wicked twist – this truly delves into a teenager’s mind.
Each character is as honest and rounded as the next, although shrouded in mystery and upturned by the non-linear structure and alternating scenarios. This is a play that keeps you on your toes and makes you lean in a little closer, wanting to figure out who, what and why.
The set design, by Ruta Irbite, was an industrial space, almost lunar-surface with additional grey painted spheres, the size of footballs, on sticks added to the space by a character’s entrance. I was, and still am, unsure of what this represented. Despite this, the stage was practically and visually adaptable, ready for colour to spill upon a section and inject life into the space.
The show is minimal in props and, for me, resonated a point that demonstrated only things present were important to the characters themselves. The teenage girl named by her on screen identity, Twisted Thorn, Abigail Rose (pictured), getting ready for her night out holds only a can of hairspray and powders her face from a compact. This is all she needs – the simplicity of what is important to you as a teenager is fascinating. Rose’s portrayal of the girl was spot on too, a mixture of unrelenting confidence matched with utter insecurity and doubt – truly a teenager.
These design elements and character depictions were developed from the eleven month partnership of Invertigo Theatre and Dan Murphy and their exploration of Identity. The small moments and minor material possessions that absorb you, like osmosis, make up some parts of who you are and the identity you have. So in the play, every character had a mobile phone and dressed in a uniform, of sorts, or used clothing to cover their identity. Our display on the outside does not always identify with what is inside, and this is exactly what A Local Boy explores and presents perfectly.
A Local Boy has now finished its run but you can follow its development here
An Invertigo Theatre Production
Richard – Ross McCormack
Silent Bob – Tim Bowie
Twisted Thorn – Abigail Rose
Rose – Debra Baker
Carl – Bailey Patrick
Director – Kay Michael
Designer – Ruta Irbite
Producer – Ashleigh Wheeler