06 April 2009

Tusk Tusk by Polly Stenham

Roland - Tom Beard
Finn - Austin Moulton,Finn Bennett
Cassie - Georgia Groome
Katie - Caroline Harker
Maggie - Bel Powley
Eliot - Toby Regbo

Director Jeremy Herrin
Designer Robert Innes Hopkins

Seen upstairs at the Royal Courtwith unreserved seating on a £10 night around a kitchen/diner set in a corner flanked by 'L' shaped audience on two sides. Nobody of note in the audience but the bar was packed with people attending the press night for The Fever downstairs.

Just reminding anyone who stumbles across this blog that these are my notes to remind ME how I felt and not intended as a review in any way.

I don't much like children, and whiny teenagers (no matter how justified their whines) just grate on my ears. That said, I think all three kids made a very good job of the first act. Sadly, the second act is what I walked away remembering and it irritated me. There were teens in That Face but they were not expected to carry the piece and they were played by more experienced actors. I was very pleased to see that despite playing a similar age, Bel Powley certainly showed that she could bring more maturity than is asked of her in MI-High. By the time we got to the second act, I felt Toby Regbo was trying too hard to 'not act' and of course, all I saw was him trying not to act. His casualness was too measured but in both of these youngsters you can see there is going to be some talent worth looking out for. They can certainly hold an audience.

I think it was just the actual piece and the fact that teens were carrying it that I found difficult. I know it was really brave to make the leads so young and the material written for them was first class in the main but I didn't enjoy watching them for that long. The lines just started to sound like white noise until the adults entered but by then, it was too late for me to re-engage. I really didn't like Georgia Groome any more in this than in that Gurinder Chadha film. She just seems like a pushy stage-school kid who got the role because she badgered someone harder than anyone else. Fortunately, it's just a service character so I didn't have to suffer her much.

So the bottom line is that I was disappointed. This didn't explore as much of the family dynamic as That Face and I'm too old to enjoy that long a piece with teenagers carrying it. If it had been 75 uninterrupted minutes, I might have liked it. It also felt a bit sanitised and if I'm going to see this kind of statement on the plight of such a family, I want it to feel a little more real.
At the curtain call, young Toby seemed quite disturbed, so much so that young Bel gave him a reassuring stroke on the second bow. I wonder if I simply went to a less good night......