Dirty Special Thing is a devised performance that has been created by Generation Arts, a platform that allows young aspiring performers to attend “a free three-week theatre-making project” as well as other training programmes that aid performers in the direction of further professional training at various drama schools. It’s a concept that provides accessible training for disadvantaged young people. This is an absolutely brilliant idea, and I strongly believe that more people need to be aware of this. A veteran of the programme spoke at the end of the performance, stating “your future is here for you.” As someone who has been exposed to the struggles of the competition, funding, confusion and sheer desperation that is involved when applying to drama schools, I feel that this generous opportunity is something extremely positive for young people, and that it’s an important cause that deserves support.

The piece starts promisingly, with Helder Fernandes starting off with a strong entrance, talking to the audience and captivating them with his vibrant energy. This is an exciting beginning because he seems to be very alert and eager to tell his story. The beginning also involves a clever concept of him lining the large stage with fluorescent tape, which turns out to be a rough map of London. This creative idea is interesting and is a nice platform into the development of the characters around different areas of London.

The direction and movement of the piece is cleverly thought out (by Ali Godfrey, Jennifer Irons and Ira Mandela Siobhan) including various examples of physical theatre, which creates smooth transitions through scenes and demonstrates character interactions in a creative way. The cast as an ensemble move very fluidly; the patterns they create in the space and the way they move the set are very dynamic and uniformly together. It is clear that the cast and company have worked very hard on these moments to achieve the desired effect, and that it has been polished to a very sharp and good standard.

Unfortunately, the production itself goes a little downhill from here. The script is devised by the Future Stage Company, but it feels from an audience’s perspective as if the cast have been told what is supposed to happen in the scenes and improvise off this, therefore making some lines seem disjointed. This also leads to multiple missed sound cues, with people unintentionally cutting over each other and lines being missed because the actors are speaking through laughter. At times there is also poor diction, but this isn’t something that can’t be cleared up with a little more training.

The audience seemed to be mostly supporters and friends of the company. While this is very heart-warming, I unfortunately felt that a lot of the laughs were achieved because the audience knew the actors, and therefore found the difference in their characters amusing. This means that anyone who doesn’t know the cast could feel little excluded from some of the jokes, and left me in a state of confusion at various points. Whilst it is important and a positive thing that young performers should be supported, it has an effect on some of the cast members at points, and some of them play up to the audience to achieve some laughs.

However, there are some really promising cast members who are very truthful in their performances. Moneer Elmasseek gives a breath of fresh air to the production, as his character is very contrasting to the others, while Sebastian Carrington-Howell is very watchable and an astounding piano player (although I feel this scene is only included to exhibit this skill and adds no effect to the actual story itself). A special mention also goes to Stephen Teelan and his charming yet accurate portrayal of a lonesome 40-year-old man, his well-rounded character choices meaning that I really began to care for his character.

This kaleidoscopic portrayal of London allows all the performers to shine in many different ways, exhibiting the clear talent amongst this group. With a little more improvement and cleaning of plot, Generation Arts could be churning out some very promising theatre in the future. I wish all the best to the young performers in their future career paths, as well as to Generation Arts for future support and funding.

Dirty Special Thing is playing at the Platform Theatre until 6 June. For more information and tickets, see the Platform Theatre website.