NSDF darlings of 2014 Naughty Corner are back with their winning original play
Naughty Corner have managed to go above and beyond the heights of student theatre with this slick, perfectly pitched production.
It should be made absolutely clear that The Bastard Queen! is sickeningly good. It’s enthralling and unashamed in its writing and the cast work together like a machine to keep the audience hooked.
Writers Mike Dickinson and Jemma Lynch have created something quite extraordinary here – it’s funny, shocking and stomach-achingly-depressing all in one, and manages to bring together a commentary on the future of the young generation without ever spoon-feeding us any neatly-packaged moral message. Instead, after the horrifying events of the narrative, we are finally invited to laugh and remember things aren’t so bad after all.
It’s hard to make something look genuinely run-down, so credit must be given to set designer STE Yates’ post-apocalyptic creation that surrounds the performance. All rust and jagged edges, this is no pseudo-poor, shabby-chic set up; the characters are literally living in piles of perfectly-designed crap. Their costumes are also expertly pulled together, giving each character their distinctive identity and posture.
Between the scripted scenes, The Bastard Queen! uses movement sequences, mostly moving various pieces of the trash-filled set around. These are set to a thumping, loud soundtrack, more like the songs that underscore The Inbetweeners than a play about the end of the world, but somehow it works.
This familiarity becomes one of the most successful elements of the play. If it weren’t for the apocalyptic aesthetics, most of the scenes wouldn’t be out of place in a student house. Lines like “I’m bored/there’s nothing on TV/what are we going to have for dinner” prevents the dystopian world of the play from ever becoming too alien. It’s a case of different place, same problems.
Naughty Corner have managed to go above and beyond the heights of student theatre with this slick, perfectly pitched production. It might be a little much for some audiences to stomach, but it’s beautifully real and carries a genuine urgency in its portrayal of young people.