Marshmallows

Thu 23rd February 2012

reviews

Florence Strickland

at 02:26 on 24th Feb 2012

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A match is struck and the lights go up to reveal Damon, Warren and Luke – the cast of James Morton’s short drama, ‘Marshmallows’. The subtlety of James’ careful and skilled structuring of the dialogue presents a short glimpse into the lives of three boys on the brink of the future.

The whole focus of the play is on the naturalistic positioning of the boys around the fire. Russell Park as Damon, and Mike Clarke as Warren oppose each other across the flames as all toast marshmallows - funnily enough. This positioning perhaps represents the first section of the dialogue, where Damon narrates an archetypal ghost story, only for its flaws to be picked apart by Warren. Luke, who has been silent so far, is finally egged into reciting a story, in anger he recounts his own experiences – the divorce of his parents during his A-levels, which resulted in him failing them. Especially, as students, we cannot deny that we live in a society where exams are what we are presented with to get ahead. Therefore, this was the understandably alienating issue, which Michael Earnshaw as Luke presented; Damon and Warren were heading to Sheffield and Cambridge respectively, but Luke would be left behind.

Contrasting to the more light-hearted beginning, tensions rise as Warren and Damon reveal their own problems in their family situations, as their relationships with their fathers – Luke is resentful of his – has a large impact on how they see themselves; Damon cannot pass his driving test, and Warren is terrified to tell his father that he is gay. Each boy is subtly characterised – perhaps slightly more depth to this characterisation would have been beneficial. There is no overtly dramatic, heart-string pulling, but a simple presentation of the problems that these boys are facing at a point in their lives, each difficult but able to be combated. A highly believable script, presented with emotionally charged periods of silence by director Hannah Gregory, facilitates this realistic presentation. The ‘Breakfast Club’-esque interlude of sensitivity eventually passes as the boys return to their, fictional, horror stories again.

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