Writer: Evan Placey
Reviewer: Iain Sykes
The National Theatre’s NT Connections programme of plays aims to provide young performers from all parts of the country with the precious opportunity to take part in some of the freshest and most challenging new plays, specially written by some of the nation’s leading writers.
Pronoun, written by Evan Placey, tells the tale of Josh and Isabella, a couple of childhood sweethearts but with the added complication to their relationship that Isabella is now on the way to becoming a boy. The young cast assembled at The Lowry rise to take on Placey’s script with aplomb. Isabella, sadly no cast list was available so credit can’t be given where it’s due here, is played as a feisty central character. Inspired by visions of her hero, James Dean, who teaches her to walk, talk and even sit like a man, she is a great protagonist in a play around which revolves many issues, not least of which the attitudes of the other people in her life to her decisions as she becomes Dean. The young actress in the rôle brings the character to life, bringing all the feeling of Placey’s words to life, especially in the speech to the Ofsted school assembly about the school’s tolerance policies.
The rest of the cast prove just as adept in rising to the play’s issues. Isabella/Dean’s parents, played in a series of rôle reversal scenes, wonderfully complementing the play’s central theme, show maturity way beyond the actors’ years in “mourning” the loss of their little girl and a more conventional couple planning their own wedding bring some good pieces of humour to the proceedings.
The set design is nice and simple, a few dividers proving effective as several rooms, and the scenes are nicely broken up with a soundtrack of early sixties American rock’n’roll tunes.
Pronoun is a touching one act play with a strong main character supported by a rounded list of others. In the hands of a cast such as that assembled at The Lowry, a challenging play becomes a thoughtful evening of questioning attitudes
Runs until 26th February