Teenage Trilogy is a walk on the mild side of adolescence
- Gareth K Vile
- 13 February 2018
An upbeat look at teenage life that avoids some of its bigger challenges
Curious Seed's Teenage Trilogy certainly offers value for money: an exhibition, a performance and a silent disco, all aiming to conjure the spirit of teenage energy and uncertainty, especially for those who still recall their teenage years fondly. There's a spirit of optimism and sincerity through the performance, despite the occasional references to darker themes – bullying, strange bodily discomfort, social and personal anxiety – and the vision of transformation and potential is a warm collection of familiar thoughts from teenagers and 'adults'.
Christine Devaney's choreography – developed in collaboration with the four dancers – elegantly illustrates the themes proposed by interviews with young people, and a superb spoken sequence that plays on the idea of liking and being alike, questions both social interaction and personal identity.
An episodic structure – echoing the mood swings that the teenagers admit to having – juxtaposes dance, video interviews, conversation, meditations on life and a sudden obstacle course built from the mattress and pillows that make up the versatile, mobile set. But it coheres towards an ultimately optimistic if simple message, that teenagers have a distinct sense of themselves as fledgling adults, working out who they are and what they'd like to be.
The upbeat presentation of teenage life leaves little space for an exploration of its more troubling aspects. Emphasising the confidence and positivity of young people, there is only a brief look at bullying and the piece's optimism excludes any critique of how teenage identity has been constructed by society, or how individual teenagers around the world may be the victims of exploitation. While the repetition of certain ideas extends the show's running time without developing the scope of the project, rather repeating themes of friendship, aspiration and relatively mild anxiety about social conduct and image.
Yet a talented cast – including real live teenagers singing, and on guitar and drums – add to its gentle charm and humour.
Reviewed at Tramway, Glasgow. Perth Theatre, Fri 16 – Sat 17 Feb.