Writer: Dennis Kelly
Director: Anthony Banks
Reviewer: Shane Morgan
Writer Dennis Kelly struck gold when he wrote Deoxyribonucleic Acid for the National Theatre’s 2007 Connections Festival. It received its professional debut at the National, rapidly became the play of choice for young actors and landed on the school syllabus as a set text. Hull Truck Theatre have a reputation for being theatrically innovative, producing straight shooting theatre that hits the funny bone and the heart at the same time. On paper, the marriage of DNA and Hull Truck seems like a logical pairing.
A collection of teenage oddballs, academics and cool kids are suddenly drawn together after a day’s worth of high jinx and antics turns to tragedy. The immediate result of this tragedy is the unexpected bonding of the teens and the discovery of something far more unexpected: Happiness. As one of them points out, “Grief is making them happy”. The greater theme at play in Kelly’s sharply observed and slickly played teen odyssey is the universe; who we are in the grand scheme of things and where we are placed in the food chain. Kelly conveys this by placing side by side a group of individuals who, truth be told, should never have anything to do with each other but somehow enhance the lives of one another.
Director Anthony Banks has taken Kelly’s sparsely written prose and created a crisp, dynamic and all encompassing production. All the elements of this play have been finely observed. The humour, tragedy and body blows are spot on and the cast takes full advantage of the license they are given.
It would be easy for adult actors to generalize teen emotions, especially in the more extreme moments of chemically enhanced euphoria or relationship stalemate. The ensemble rise to the occasion, each one playing an integral rôle and raising the game for the others to match. It is promoted as ‘Featuring James Alexandrou (Eastenders)’. While Alexandrou is excellent as the largely quiet but inventive Phil, the whole cast are in tune with each other and prove to be a formidable ensemble.
DNA puts you in the middle of the action and demands your attention. Believe the hype.
Runs until 12th May 2012.