Writer: Chris Dunkley
Director: Chris New
Reviewer: Lou Flaxman
Against a backdrop of televisions held together with duct tape, Chris Dunkley’s story of a teenage boy getting to grips with his place in a financially precarious Britain unfolds.
In the wake of the London riots of 2011, 15 year old schoolboy Finn must decide whether to pursue his education and risk enormous debt and no guarantee of a good job, or to resort to a life of petty crime and gambling like his alcoholic father.
A combination of social realism and leftwing espousal, Fin is archetypal of a generation of disenfranchised working class youths, coming to terms with the legacy of uncertain job prospects and greedy individualism left by bankers in the wake of the financial crisis.
Chris Dunkley’s writing is sharp and direct, but at times Fin sounds more like a mouthpiece for Dunkley than a real teenage kid. His political awakening is speedy and a little too thorough and he prophesies about the risk of future social unrest in a way that seems not just beyond his years, but somewhat beyond his character.
While this is a play about the confusion of political awakening, the politics of the play itself are pretty solid. The message that capitalism is bad and social enlightenment essential is clear throughout, which slightly inhibits dramatic tension.
The character of the slimy and patronizing step father Tim, a symbol of capitalist ambition, is played with wonderfully patronising smarm by Ben Mars, who also doubles as the voice of the mysterious and dangers Balthazar, who is trying to introduces Fin’s young brother to a life of crime. Although, at times Tim is so clearly one of the bad guys, that the piece lacks friction and veers towards diatribe rather than debate.
Scott Chambers delivers an admirably naturalistic performance as the confused Fin, and the bitterness of feeling both isolated and relied upon is touchingly clear. Although it has to be said that at times his quick-fire delivery is a little hard to understand.
An eloquent, funny and moving piece that engages with a worthy topic, but one which should perhaps not wear its own argument so clearly on its sleeve.