A co production with the National Theatre kick starts the 2022 season at the Minerva. Our Generation, directed by Chichester Festival Theatre Artistic Director Daniel Evans, is a new play by Alecky Blythe (founder of the verbatim theatre company Recorded Delivery) and employing this technique. She, along with her team of collectors spent 2015-2020 interviewing a diverse selection of twelve children from six schools across the UK, amassing over 656 hours of recordings. This innovative project has been whittled down to approximately three hours and gives an incredible snapshot of the hopes and fears, traumas and pressures but also the resilience of the younger generation of today.
Two intervals separate, firstly the earlier years when phones and self image dominate their lives, exam anxieties and future expectations. The second part covers the transition from school to college now involving sexual awakenings, relationships, political recognition and careers. The last forty minutes hits like a ton of bricks – Lockdown and Covid 19! Cataloguing some of the many ways this unprecedented period impacted on their lives from home schooling, boredom, social distancing, zoom and family living situations that played out in this tough year.
Some impressive and innovative lighting effects from Zoe Spurr assist the realism of the piece while these twelve incredibly talented young actors bring to life such a compelling kaleidoscope of awareness and complexities of emotion. Both comedy and poignancy cover some uncomfortable and wide-ranging issues from mental health to abuse and child neglect. Every member of this spirited and slickly choreographed production was superb but special mention for Joe Bolland (Zac), Gavi Singh Chera (Ali), Poppy Shepherd (Emily) and Rachelle Diedericks (Ierum) who both opened and closed the show, for their refreshing and insightful portrayals. Debbie Chazen too for such great characterisation.
We are yet to see the long-term damage done to the theatre by the pandemic but with such vibrant and stunningly accomplished fledgling actors – it looks to be in safe hands.
Reviewer: Jill Lawrie