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Review: ON THE LINE, Camden People's Theatre

Review: ON THE LINE, Camden People's Theatre

Two friends skip school to visit their rich friend's mansion. All hell breaks loose when a fishing fly disappears.

Review: ON THE LINE, Camden People's Theatre When Tia and Kai decide to skip school to visit their new schoolmate Sienna, they "stick out like balls on a bulldog". Their friend lives in a mansion overlooking Hampstead Heath, a far cry from the estate where they grew up. Sienna's house tour quickly turns into a disaster when Tia and Kai have a row.

On The Line is a play about cultural identity and class divide. Its themes, however, are offered with a forced hand and not much subtlety. It falls into stereotypes, but still manage to become food for thought in a society slain by the cost-of-living crisis.

Emilia Teglia writes and directs with a frontal wannabe-meta vein. As the action develops, an uncredited person watches the actors closely, almost amused, following them to add sound from a speaker or adjusting the lights. It's meant to breach the gap between fact and fiction, an element that becomes clear when the company come together after the end to explain that the root of the tale is based on real accounts. It adds movement to the production, but it's inconsequential.

Giorgia Valentino introduces a young girl who's as smart on the streets as she is in class. Nerves bring her to an overacting start, but her performance grows into an impressive display of wide-eyed vulnerability. Zacchaeus Kayode is budding footballer Kai. Worried that any misdemeanour will impact his chances of winning a place at his chosen academy, he gives an impassioned take on the role of stop-and-search procedures and the PTSD that comes from them.

While only one hour long, Teglia's script has a lot of surplus material that's solely used to bring the topics up. Tia and Kai regale Sienna with the crazy tales of their wild childhood on the estate, painting a clichéd picture of contemporary disadvantaged youth versus their luckier pals with trust funds. They're happy in their world. Sienna is obviously not. What should be a layered piece remains explored only on a surface level without much empathy shown to either side of privilege.

It's a story that feels like it's being told merely in order to explore a string of socially relevant issues. On The Line means well. It has all the right ideas but doesn't develop them enough for the commentary to become intrinsic to the narrative. Just like Tia and Kai, it sticks out too much.

On The Line runs at Camden People's Theatre until 3 December.



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From This Author - Cindy Marcolina

Italian export. Member of the Critics' Circle (Drama). Also a script reader and huge supporter of new work. Twitter: @Cindy_Marcolina

... (read more about this author)

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