I’m a little bit nervous about going to see Brilliant Adventures at Live Theatre. For one, the promo images show two little Lego men in space suits (and I don’t have a teenage boy to take with me). Furthermore, I’m trying to cut down on my mid-week drinking so I’m not going to be able to soften any sci-fi with Sauvignon.
But I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that any science fiction takes a back seat in what is fundamentally a beautiful piece of drama about family, friendship and class divides.
The piece is superbly acted by the all-male cast, who deftly bounce the snappy, believable, ‘borough’ dialogue around between them like a fire-ball.
The writing is confident and sensitive: taking us on a journey that is sad, funny and shocking by turns.
Listening to Luke, the ‘genius on benefits’, talk about the futility of exams and education, its hard to believe that Alastair McDowall wrote his play before the recession truly had us all in its grip, and before the crippling tuition fees were introduced.
In our ‘current climate’ (excuse the banker speak but everyone’s at it these days), Luke’s time machine serves as a symbol of emancipation – his only chance of escape from his stifling council flat life.
The play is set in Middlesbrough. Although it could just as easily have been any working class estate in Britain, where amongst the debris of factory closures can be found wandering the ‘lost boys’, the generation of young men who can’t afford uni or clock in at a factory.
The audience warmly receive the piece. We laugh in recognition when Ben says (in reference to the estate), ‘It looks like you’ve had a war no one knew about.’ And a collective shiver runs through us when Gregg asks Rob what the future will look like: ‘Round here? I’d be surprised if there’s even dust left.’
One particularly bewitching moment, when even the organic liquorice eaters alongside me put their packet down, is Rob’s faltering apology to his brother, flawlessly delivered by Joe Arkley. The apology remains largely unspoken; all in the subtext, as is so often the case with siblings who have shared experiences that they dare not speak of.
If you have the chance to see this before it closes on Saturday, go. You’ll see a group of young men who are anything but ‘lost boys,’ who are, in fact, totally at home on the stage, and safely cocooned by this lovely script.