Some people say your school days are the best days of your life. Some people are even defined by them, not least the characters in Kenneth Emsom’s poetic new one-act play ‘Plastic’. Set in an unnamed town in Essex, the play explores how childhood events take such a massive toll on the lives of characters Jack (Louis Greatorex), Ben (Thomas Coombes), Lisa (Madison Clare) and Kev (Mark Weinman).

The story is told in verse and is given a modern edge, inspired by Emsom’s passion for garage music. This works beautifully as the characters flit between telling the story in the moment and referencing back to it with fluidity. The set is simple but for the lights which makes the stage look like a dingy night club - a fitting metaphor for the garage inspired script.

The story revolves around Lisa, the archetypal school girl with the older boyfriend, Kev, who peaked at school and struggles to come to terms with the fact he still has the rest of his life to live. But he truly loves Lisa and Mark Weinman plays the school football captain with a truthful complexity. Lisa is one of the ‘popular’ kids, but she’s not so egotistical as to not remain friends with her old neighbours from Colville - Ben and Jack, the outcasts. Two mates so close that they would never leave the other behind, even if the other way was easier. Thomas Coombes gives a masterclass in acting as Ben who is bullied and deeply hurt as a teenager. Madison Clare plays Lisa brilliantly with confidence and vulnerability in equal measure, and is a young actor to look out for.

Directed superbly by Josh Roche, the drama comes to an unpredictable head as each of the characters lives entwine. Roche gets the right balance of humour, drama and nostalgia to make this a special piece of new writing. A special mention must go to lighting designer/operator Peter Small who skilfully lights the actors for a sequence of touching monologues towards to end. Blink and you’ll miss it.
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