Identity crisis is the theme in the latest play staged by Luton’s band of young thespians.
In Doing Nothing I Found Me was staged at the Hat Factory earlier this month by Next generation Youth Theatre.
At times abstract and darkly comic, it tells the story of a Luton teenager at odds with the world – who retreats into his bedroom, tucked up in his pyjamas – away from all the pressures of being a teenager.
But that’s the problem.
Young Peter (Cameron Mullane) can’t escape, because wherever he goes he’s linked to his chain of friends and classmates through social media, monitoring where he is, chatting about his absence like he’s still at school.
Even when Peter’s alone, bearing his heart and soul to the audience, the chorus of cool kids is still present in the background, ready for the youngster to compare himself to.
Mullane is witty and self-deprecating in his performance as Peter, who is dealing with the loss of his dad who has walked out.
And, he’s surrounded by sassy women – a confident older sister (Hannah Kelly), outgoing stepsisters (Charmaine Zinyemba and Rhyanna Lewis-Brown), making it hard for him to pluck up the courage to talk to a girl he likes (Michelle Grace) ... at least in the real world anyway.
The set has a clever minimalist style, trebling up as Peter’s bedroom, the settings of his dreams, and the universe of social media.
Quite what triggers Peter’s motives – and what ultimately lifts him back out of depression – is hard to say, but it’s a journey of self-discovery where worries and nightmares are perhaps more real to him than the world outside.
Hats off to writer and director David Lloyd and all the talented cast of Next Generation Youth Theatre for another insightful look at what it means being a teenager in the modern age.
Let’s hope we can get an encore performance sometime again this year!