Nuclear apocalypse has arrived and a handful of surviving teenage girls have been herded into a holding pen marked YPFii (that’s YPF Two) ready for “The Victors” to determine their fate. A Big Brother (in this case a Big Sister) voice bellows instructions at the girls, who are as yet in the dark as to whether The Victors’ intentions are benign. Even if they’re not, obeying might be their only means of survival.
The young all-female cast of Putney High Drama can be proud of this piece, especially musician and composer, Bethany Reeves, who sets a menacing musical tone from behind a keyboard at the back of the stage. There’s promising acting on display, even if there’s a slight tendency to rush lines and talk over each other. It’s no more than over-keenness and, no doubt, nerves. There are some nicely choreographed sections, where the bulk of the cast play background to one of the character’s expositional monologues, for which writing/producing/directing pair Elizabeth Bennett and Emma Burford can be commended.
However, there are a few too many characters for a forty-five minute play, presumably to include everyone in the piece, rather than for dramatic reasons. There are ten on stage, and insufficient means of developing a connection to them. The who’s who is easily lost in blink-and-you-miss-it introductions. Sarah (Kirsty Haywood), the angry, cynical one, and Helen (Sasha Gardner), clean cut daughter of the Prime Minister, are the easiest to get a handle on, and strike up a running feud. More time and/or fewer characters would allow more conflicts like this to develop.
Nevertheless, it’s a genuinely sinister moment when the girls learn their fate and the meaning of YPF. It begs for a slightly longer resolution where we can absorb ourselves in the girls’ varying responses to it.
This may have been their first introduction to the Fringe, but you doubt it will be their last.