PPP: Prom

Mar 29 2016 | By More

★★★☆☆      Lively
Traverse Theatre: Tue 29 Mar – Sat 2 Apr 2016
Review by Hugh Simpson

Sparky energy and interesting observations abound in Oliver Emanuel’s Prom, the latest A Play, A Pie and A Pint offering at the Traverse. Even if the end result is not perfect, it has enough drive to satisfy.

The play sees four former schoolfriends, all members of an elite ‘Level One’ of cool, popular kids, look back on their S6 Prom, and the terrible events they set in motion there.

Helen MacKay, Martin McBride, Nicola Roy and Ryan Fletcher. Photo Leslie Black

Helen MacKay, Martin McBride, Nicola Roy and Ryan Fletcher. Photo Leslie Black

The Prom itself definitely takes place in 2016 – with the reflections on it from a later reunion presumably happening in the future – but even the trappings of modern technology described cannot mask the fact that little really changes.

Much of what is described here will be familiar to anyone who has ever been young. The peer pressure, and the obsessions with reputation and status that can characterise school life, are nailed fairly comprehensively. Indeed, there is something of a theatre-in-education feel to it; this is not meant in any way as a criticism, merely an observation on how the play anatomises the lives of teenagers and has a relatively well-defined moral centre.

The storyline unfolds lucidly and elegantly. Director Gareth Nicholls utilises both the space and the cast of four cleverly, with the result being taut and well-paced. The songs, by Emanuel and Ryan Fletcher, are sparingly and effectively used.

excellent performers

However, there are definite flaws. The four excellent performers – Fletcher with Helen MacKay, Martin McBride and the particularly impressive Nicola Roy – manage to bring their characters to life, and even to make them oddly likeable, however shallow they may be. However, they remain ill-defined and practically interchangeable. This may say something about the way people suppress their own personalities in order to remain ‘cool’, but is unsatisfactory dramatically.

Indeed, despite the cleverness of the construction, with its slow, inexorable release of information punctuated by laughter, there is not a great deal of tension here. It has the feeling of a monologue that has been split up almost arbitrarily between four characters, and one that would work equally well on radio.

These suspicions, however, are largely dissipated by the skill and energy on show. There is such momentum to the production, and the performances are so full of life, that the end result has a great deal of charm.

Running time 55 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 29 March – Saturday 2 April 2016
Lunchtimes: 1pm, Evening performance Friday 1, 7pm.
Tickets and details: http://www.traverse.co.uk/

Then touring to Aberdeen:

The Lemon Tree
5 West North Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5AT
Tuesday 5 – Saturday 9 April 2016
Evenings Tue – Fri: 6pm; Matinees: Thurs 7, Sat 9: 1pm.
Tickets and details: www.aberdeenperformingarts.com

Helen MacKay, Martin McBride, Nicola Roy and Ryan Fletcher. Photo Leslie Black

Helen MacKay, Martin McBride, Nicola Roy and Ryan Fletcher. Photo Leslie Black


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  1. Gareth Nichols for Traverse : All Edinburgh Theatre.com | Apr 28 2017