DNA

The premise is mildly interesting: a group of feral, amoral teenagers kill a classmate and attempt to cover up the murder through ever more elaborate schemes of deception. A variety of character types are present: the alpha; his harem (not literally, this is not one of those plays) of devotees; the garrulous girl; the sinister loner; the sadistic girl, who you just know used to cuddle her pet rabbits to death. However, as a tale of savagery and the end of innocence, DNA isn’t quite as daring as it’s trying to be.

The actress playing Leah easily has the lion’s share of lines; her scenes with the silent boy are one-sided enough to be considered monologues. She conveys the neurotic nature of her character well enough, though many of her jokes fall flat - more work needs to be done on comic timing in order to turn her scene-long anecdotes from a vague stream-of-consciousness to something more compelling, with more clear direction.

When the dead boy turns out to be less dead than expected, things take a turn for the grotesque. The main issue with the script is its unclear intentions. If you consider the play at face value, the narrative seems clumsy and insensitive; however, if it is intended as a satire of broken youth that we should feel alienated and distanced from, it indeed achieved that. Yet the alienation made me care not a jot for the characters and, by extension, the play.

DNA seems to be trying to emulate The Lord of the Flies, yet ultimately lacks the pathos and horror that the show needs in order to work.

Reviews by Laura Francis

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Performances

The Blurb

A group of teenagers accidentally kill a classmate. But organising the cover-up isn’t child’s play. A funny, feisty black comedy by award-winning playwright Dennis Kelly (Channel 4’s Utopia and Matilda the Musical). 

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