The Fall by James Fritz explores the gargantuan gap between young and old and how those on the brink of adulthood contemplate the rate at which it closes. Fritz touches upon the disorientating consideration of mortality, how difficult it is for young people to get onto the property ladder and the ‘fall’ into ominous lack of funding for elderly people in the UK.
Before any of the pieces begin, the actors burst onto the in-the-round stage and perform high energy choreography. Perhaps the dancing is designed to parade the ‘beaming youth’ of the actors, however, it feels a little more like a warm up and doesn’t seem to relate at all to any of the pieces.
The play is split into three parts, all with different characters, plots and locations but laced with similar themes. The staging by Christopher Hone features a central bed which is swivelled 360 degrees by the actors at different points throughout the performance. It is impressive to witness how creatively the actors use the bed including taking off and putting on the sheets and as a hospital-style bed before someone is euthanised. The direction by Matt Harrison is consistently innovative and dynamic throughout all three pieces.
The young actors conduct themselves with an admirable sophistication. A particular highlight is Sophie Couch and Troy Richards’ performances. The pair illustrate the struggles of a couple trying to make ends meet while having to make devastating sacrifices to accommodate caring for an elderly parent. The script is intelligent and atmospheric and the couple navigate the plot with complete control, never letting the pace get the better of them. Jamie Foulkes also performs a notably heartfelt monologue in the ‘Black Mirror’ style third section.
National Youth Theatre is an organisation which never wanes in it pursuit to serve youth the very best opportunities. Being a spectator to talent being nourished and cultivated with such compassion is one of the most exciting gifts theatre can bring.
Reviewed by Nicole Darvill-Batten
Photo: Helen Maybanks