BWW Reviews: THE STATIC, Riverside Studios, October 19 2012
Sparky (Brian Vernel), looking like a teenage Morrisey sans gladioli, can't sit still in class, has voices in his head tormenting him and knows he wants something, but isn't sure what. He does know it's definitely not Mr Murphy's (Nick Rhys) karate classes and it's probably not the Ritalin either, but he begins to quite enjoy Mrs Kelly's (Pauline Lockhart) behavioural psychology classes. And then the answer turns up in the shape of Siouxsie (Samantha Foley), a girl claiming telekinetic powers which may or may not be true - but she certainly has powers aplenty to move Sparky's hormones.
Davey Anderson's script has echoes of Bill Paterson's Gregory's Girl (it's also set in Scotland) mining the same awkward charm of a couple of misfits finding themselves. While that set-up is always heartwarming, it's hardly original, but director Neil Bettles makes use of an extraordinarily versatile block of school lockers on which to project images, through which secret stashes are revealed and to provide the all-important wall on which disaffected teenagers have always sat. Bettles also creates beautiful dance/movement sequences, which could easily be lost on the Riverside Studios yawning stage, but are not.
There's no room for weakness in a four-hander and the cast are uniformly excellent. Nick Rhys and Pauline Lockhart are given proper backstories and rounded characters to work with and are vulnerable and manipulative in their own ways. Samatha Foley and Brian Vernel as the teenagers get just about everything right - from the first furtive glances, the growing, insistent ache of desire manifest in its determined suppression and on to the innocent, orgasmic, first kiss.
The Static (at the Riverside Studios until 20 October and on tour) is a superbly realised piece of theatre that has already won awards and may win more. I hope it will tour beyond this Autumn and, with just a few cuts for language, become a staple of schools drama, as it will stretch even the best young actors and entertain their friends - and their parents and teachers.