Review: Frequently Asked Questions, New Wolsey Young Associates, Pulse Festival, New Wolsey Studio, June 4

New Wolsey Young Associates present FrequentlyAsked Questions , a 10-step guide to adult life by tee

New Wolsey Young Associates present FrequentlyAsked Questions , a 10-step guide to adult life by teenagers - Credit: Archant

Frequently Asked Questions opens with a few disclaimers, but I advise you to pay no heed. Firstly, there are definitely far more than three jokes in the whole piece, and secondly their lack of adult life-experience is almost irrelevant, as the four teenagers reveal insight beyond their years. Sam, Tom, Jack and Gemma provide a teenager’s ten step guide to adult life. From love to the internet, careers to social conditioning, they ask some of life’s big questions and provide a biting critique of the culture surrounding us.

The New Wolsey Young Associates have divided their play into ten separate pieces, each one focussing on a different topic. Seamlessly woven together, these range from monologues to wordless physical theatre. One even features a tombola and some Justin Bieber stickers. The four young performers had the audience engaged from opening scene to standing ovation. They made excellent use of a simple set consisting of four exam tables, four chairs and four microphones. Their comic timing and chemistry as a group brought the production alive. The final thought-provoking advice made an uplifting conclusion with some effective uses of silence and fake snow.

Frequently Asked Questions is ultimately a deeply insightful piece. Sure there’s a sprinkling of teenage angst (and a liberal dose of crass humour and swearing – it’s definitely not for younger children) but this is one of their strengths as their tangible energy forces their audience to step back and look at the world with a new perspective. One moment they’re fighting over a table in an impeccably choreographed piece of physical comedy, and the next they’re slicing through your laughter with a witty, poignant monologue about the cult of self. This production gets right to the heart before you’ll realise it was ever near the vicinity.

New Wolsey Young Associates is part of New Wolsey Theatre, Birmingham Rep, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse’s initiative to encourage the writers, devisers, actors and producers of the future. Judging by this production the theatre of tomorrow will be an exciting, vibrant and perceptive place to be.

Hannah Rowe

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