Playing someone less than a third your age is quite the challenge; thankfully the cast do a good job of depicting believably naïve adolescents. But the writing is a touch overblown in the excess of swearing and vulgarity; at times it feels more like a grown-up's vision of being young.
Michael Feast plays obnoxious Mike, who is every bit as careless as one might expect from a drunk and reckless teenager having just finished school, while Ronny (Mike Grady) is the troubled and intriguingly inscrutable outsider to the group. The characters themselves are an interesting mix – providing drama in the form of a complex love triangle – and Mike’s younger sister Lizzy (Sarah Ball) delivers some refreshingly unexpected wisdom throughout.
Though the characters may at first seem a bit lacklustre, as the night draws on, secrets and fears are spilled alongside the cheap beer that keeps being cracked open to their raucous yells – and slowly, the play acquires depth, as well as some genuinely heart-wrenching moments.
There is also the comical element: people of pension-collecting age dancing animatedly to Top Forty pop music elicits ripples of laughter from the audience, and seeing them re-live experiences that we only ever associate with unworldly youths (being so drunk that they think they’re “going to die”) is hilarious whilst also granting a new perspective on that brief window to the past.
The opportunity to witness wizened actors on stage is rare – let alone playing parts that aren't assigned to them due to their age. So the twist of Seventeen is compelling in its novelty.
The play turns out wiser than its opening scenes foretell, though it fails to fully capture the heady spirit of adolescence.
|What||Seventeen, Lyric Hammersmith review|
|Where||Lyric Hammersmith, Lyric Square, King St, W6 0QL | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Hammersmith (All lines) (underground)|
04 Mar 17 – 08 Apr 17, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
|Price||£15 - £35|
|Website||Click here for more information|