Writer: Steven Camden aka Polarbear
Director: Tessa Walker
Reviewer: Karen Bussell
A gentle Inbetweeners meets Rambo unfolds in Birmingham Rep’s Back Down as Brummie teenage trio Zia, Luke and Tommy head for the dizzy heights ofSnowdonfora boys’ weekend away.
Lovelorn Luke (convincingly played by Our Girl’s Dangleberries and Casualty’s Matt, Lawrence Walker) is off toLeedsto study film and his posse want to mark the occasion with a final fling.
Born from the memories of a disastrous teenage holiday, spoken word artist Steven Camden aka Polarbear’s first stage piece is engaging, nicely underplayed and humorous.
There are no big shakes or dramatic climaxes – despite a tripping, feral ex-SAS muscle man getting handy with a large knife or unexplained gunfire – instead there is a simple tale of a road trip, an affirmation of friendship and a girding of the loins for a new chapter. By using spoken word instead of relaying through the medium of a play, the focus remains downbeat and realistic with director Tessa Walker ensuring varying pace to keep the interest.
This is a story told by the trio who enact the tale en route with the larger-than-life, dead desert dog-carrying Rafe never seen but whose lines are spoken by any one of the three. Their ill-prepared camping trip is a clear rite of passage with foibles exposed and irritations borne of a long association quick to surface but, although the summit may elude the adolescents this time round, camaraderie wins out and that peak is clearly in sight for a future foray. All very metaphorical.
Sam Cole is well cast as testosterone-fuelled, weed and booze provisioner, wide boy Tommy, the most immature of the three, jittery and mouthy, hiding Luke’s mobile to ensure his friend’s undivided attention for just one last day. He may have forgotten his one job – to book a campsite – but of course his luck is in and an appropriate field is right on hand just as one expects is how he ricochets thorough life.
Zia is the most complex of the three and is played superbly by one-to-watch Waleed Akhtar.
On the cusp of a scary debut which may release him from carpet-selling drudgery, the young Muslim sticks to his beliefs – despite being in the painting-like land of Snowdonia – and with some internet research, new boots and no map, leads his men to the unsignposted middle of nowhere and a chaotic retreat with some joie de vivre al fresco peeing and football cementing their friendship.
A very pleasant 70 minutes.
Runs untilSaturday 9 May 2015.