Review: DNA, Rose, Kingston ***

Dennis Kelly’s DNA tells the dark story of a group of teenagers, one of whom – Adam – is dead. Instigated by the teenagers themselves through a series of violence, bullying and cruel taunts, Adam’s death provides the pinnacle around which the events in this play unfurl. These youngsters are shown seeking the help of Phil, the true Alpha of the pack, who – although absent from the violent crime – has plenty of ideas concerning how the group can cover their backs.

Leah Brotherhead’s Northern gal Leah steals the show as Phil’s long-suffering side-kick

A sickening, saddening tale from start to finish, this touring production from Hull Truck packs a lot of punch in a relatively short space of time. A well-rounded cast delivers Dennis Kelly’s dialogue with aplomb, with many actors handling the delicate twists and turns in the script with ease. Humourous line delivery and characterisation make the nauseating plot much lighter, almost palatable, which has the effect of distancing the audience from the true horror of the unfurling events. This is not necessarily a good thing, however. Whilst James Alexandrou, of Eastenders fame, plays the strong, silent Phil with good presence, it is Leah Brotherhead’s Northern gal Leah that steals the show as Phil’s long-suffering side-kick. Her comic timing and the continual search for her own value is heartwarming and hilarious – a joy to watch.

Multimedia is used within the sparse set to help set both place and atmosphere, along with music and astute lighting direction by James Mackenzie, to highlight the most important parts of the scene. Yet the overall tone of the production seems at odds with the play’s content. Perhaps with greater focus on Kelly’s excellent script work, this production could more easily convey the enormity of the events that actually occur throughout the course of the play.

*** (3 stars)
Touring until May 23rd
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