‘In a world full of train-track thinkers, Standish, you’re a breeze in the park of imagination’.
Standish Treadwell is a dyslexic, 15 year old living under the Motherland, a totalitarian regime, ruling 1950s Britain with an iron fist. Mocked and bullied, life is bleak, but hope springs when he meets compassionate friend and neighbour Hector Lush, and the two hatch an imaginative plan to overthrow the dark forces and escape to a better life.
It was always going to be a challenge bringing Sally Gardner’s award-winning junior fiction to the stage, but Jemma Kennedy’s adaptation rises to it, with this punchy dystopian drama which reminds us how much we need unique and courageous rebels in our world, to bring about change.
Supported by film projections, live drawing and some intimidating sound effects, James Newton’s portrayal of Standish is a triumph, through his ability to hold onto the audience and deliver brief interludes of humour, into what could otherwise have felt like an exhausting monologue of anxiety and brutality.
Mindful of the 9-to-12 year old age guidance, this production might have benefitted from not trying to pack so much of the story into its compact 60-minute run, and possibly dedicating more of its time to the bourgeoning friendship between Standish and Hector (played by the utterly charming James Day), but this brave creation should certainly be applauded for not pulling any punches, and sensitively delivering some hard-hitting theatre, to all too often patronised young audiences.
Maggot Moon, Unicorn Theatre, Tooley Street, SE1 2HZ. Tickets £12-22, until 27 October 2019. Warnings: 9-12 age guidance, contains occasional use of strong language.
Last Updated 04 October 2019