Traverse Theatre (Venue 15)
4 stars ****
THE BELGIAN company Ontroerend Goed have become true stars of the Fringe over the last four years, with a series of fierce alternations between intensely adult one-on-one theatre, and shows created with a teenage cast that try to embody the emotional, political and erotic chaos of post-modern teenage experience.
In Teenage Riot, playing in the big space of Traverse One, a cast of eight young people retreat into an onstage cube which they call a shack, a kind of den decorated inside with a fierce Sixties-style collage of cut-out images and painted patterns, toy-sized drawings and (for furniture) brightly-coloured babies’ car seats. Inside the shack, they squirm and wriggle and snog and talk, often about sex, but also about the shameful mixed signals they receive from the adult world around them on everything from drugs to lies.
Images of what is going on in the shack are projected live onto its front surface, as the kids talk, writhe and perform for a hand-held camera. And occasionally, they emerge from the shack – sometimes through a trapdoor on top of it – to talk to us directly, inviting us to “at least solve some problems, before you land them on my plate”; at one point, they even turn the camera onto the largely middle-aged audience, so that they can splatter the images of our smug and jowly faces with tomatoes.
The whole show lasts only 55 minutes, and is followed by an invitation to inspect the shack from the inside; it’s a formidable little installation, to add to an already fairly mind-blowing combination of live performance and screen imagery. In the world of theatre, there’s plenty of work created by adults for children and young people, and plenty created by young companies for audiences of their own age. This, though, looks like that rare thing; a show created by young people for adults, to both challenge and disturb them. And for all the risks it takes – not least by exposing so much young teenage flesh to the rheumy eyes of the older generation – I think it works.
Until 29 August