Middle Child Theatre present their take on the last 25 years of political change and the repercussions upon young people today in their production 25: 13 Red, 12 Blue. Set in Hull and following a series of characters, this devised play attempts to map the changing political landscape that has led young people to be at the brink of despair. We’ve had benefits cuts, been told to get jobs, and yet no one seems to listen when you’re a young person; we are just a demographic, tossed aside. Whilst the production has good intentions, and at times shows the boiling rage that lies underneath the surface, the fragmented storylines that never quite resolve themselves fail to offer a constructed argument or reflection upon the situation in hand. Intentions are well made, but as a piece of theatre, it feels unfinished and too open-ended.
The characters seem to lack connections aside from their age and their own take upon the political structures in play. There is Joe, the level-headed guy who copes with two jobs and a child of his own; Jack, who channels his anger into Second Life, trolling other users in the hope to provoke; and Sarah, who writes weekly to Cameron, Clegg and Miliband telling them in plain terms all their wrongs amounted in that week. There are further characters who represent their 25-year-old selves with stereotypical portrayal, but all feel underdeveloped and in need of drastic shaking up.
It’s not all lost though, there are moments where Middle Child Theatre manage to convey their message with force. There is an underlying feeling of believing in your dreams and surviving against the odds. There are some wonderful monologue moments that bring out the message and firmly cement the company’s views on the world with force, but this all feels lost when characters are never resolved. It is a shame, for the potential of the company is clear, but the execution isn’t there. What 25: 13 Red, 12 Blue needs is to cut back on characters and on a vision of presenting a big series of narratives. Sometimes the simplest way to get a message across is through small, structured productions.
** – 2 Stars
25: 13 Red, 12 Blue is playing at C Aquila as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 27th August. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.