Growing up. That moment when you leave education and realise you’re supposed to do something in the Real World. It’s scary - that combination of liberty and sudden panic is skilfully captured by No Prophet Theatre’s young company in this production of Boys.
Benny, Mack and Sophie have just graduated. Cam’s about to play in a violin concert that will shape his future. Timp and Laura are still working in a cafe. All of them are cooped up in a student flat wanting to figure out what they’re going to do with their lives and to have a final hedonistic celebration but the rubbish hasn’t been collected in weeks, and someone’s got to sort it out. The set of this play is a surprisingly convincing student kitchen, littered with swollen bin bags. The music ranges from Edvard Grieg to Disney, and is all the better for it. But though the production values are high, what makes this show stand out is the quality of the acting.
Each member of the company engages energetically with the demands of the script, and the individuality of the character they are playing. Not everything is perfect - Patrick Fleming’s pessimistic Mack sometimes holds the same insistent tone for too long, and Ella McLoughlin Mitchell’s Sophie can be a little hard to hear - but the relationships and tensions depicted in this grubby flat are remarkably convincing. Particularly worth applauding are Will Merrick’s anxious Benny, always on the edge of being pushed into panic, and Olivia Duffin’s Laura, garrulous and grinning but surprisingly thoughtful.
This is a production that will make you almost instantly invest in its characters - as a result you’re gripped by the plot, and its hour and three quarters running time seems far shorter than that. I left the theatre disappointed that it was over but gratified that I’d been shown such a compelling story.