In an explosion of noise and energy, a large group of teenagers bursts onto the stage. They’re on their way to their den in the woods: a secret place where they’re not supposed to be, where they can hide from authority and be themselves for a while. So far, so normal. But there’s something dark and different about this imagined future world… something that happens when it rains.

The alpha male is Xander, a confident young man who “doesn’t do mates” but does command an easy respect from his peers. But later, when the group inevitably turns on itself, an increasingly tyrannical Xander finds himself facing a malevolent challenger for his crown. Comparisons to Lord Of The Flies are inevitable, but there’s no copyright on human behaviour; this is a new, modern take on a sadly familiar story, which feels all the more poignant at a time when society around us seems determined to tear itself apart.

There are messages a-plenty to reflect on, but none of them feels laboured and all emerge naturally from the plot. There’s a manufactured fear of outsiders and a warped belief in “freedom” – offered only to those willing to submit to the leader’s rules. There’s a touch of denialism too, though we can tell it’s motivated by the fear of facing of a terrible truth. And most obviously, there’s a thread of environmental angst, from a generation that genuinely questions whether life will be worth living once our planet burns.

Understandably, this young cast don’t have the training or experience of their older peers, and lines are lost to fumbled diction here and there. But the physicality is always impressive, and the visceral menace as the group fragments is genuinely disturbing at times. Both script and actors do a fine job portraying the cusp between adolescence and adulthood, with occasional lapses into childish name-calling a counterpoint to the life-and-death drama. And the characters’ personal journeys are exceptionally well-portrayed, as they jostle for position and, in some cases, learn transformative things about themselves.

We’re told the actors worked with playwright Natasha Brotherdale Smith to develop the themes of the script, and it’s clear from start to finish that this production speaks from the gut. It’s a well-honed and distressingly believable script, ably presented by a talented company. In the world of the play the future is bleak – but the next generation of theatre is clearly in safe hands.