Originally published on A Younger Theatre
Awarded 3 stars
All teenage boys are inherently a bit weird. When Oliver Tate (Jonas Moore) is faced with trying to rescue his parents’ failing marriage or trying to keep his own relationship alive with Jordana Bevan (Rachel Kelly), it’s not an easy decision. With the added twist of Jordana’s mum and her illness combined with the all too good-looking neighbour Graham (Tom Titherington) fawning over his mum, Oliver only has his intellect, misplaced teenage self-confidence and his laddish friend Chips (Charlie Jones) to guide him these awkward teenage years.
The cast sit in the audience for this play, which makes for an interesting head-turner when it looks as though audience members are getting up to contribute to the performance. The whole production has a typically emo-indie vibe about it – it’s not difficult to see that it was adapted from a contemporary arts film. The script, the actors, the music all have a slightly bleak and yet uplifting feeling about them. The emotional disconnect often doesn’t work in a play, but because it is stylised here it comes across effectively. The most accomplished actor with this style is Kelly, whose Jordana is modelled on Nessa from Gavin and Stacey. She has a non-committal, unemotional persona that only cracks for brief moments when she gives Oliver a wry smile or when she chokes back a tear at her mother’s illness.
Oliver is the star in this play, which is a relief considering he’s on stage throughout the entirety of the performance. His frank observations as narrator (“If my Dad radiated a colour, it would be ochre. Or eggshell”) are a bit awkward but produce a good few laughs. He becomes more passionate nearer the end as he takes it upon himself to save his parents’ marriage (“I don’t want to come from a broken home like Chips, where you wear tracksuit tops instead of coats”). Moore ultimately waves a flag for all of the nerdy, insecure teenage boys who eventually decide not to care what the world thinks about them.
The show itself could do with some more awkward laughter. Overall it hangs together well, but some moments need to breathe to let the audience drink in any pregnant pauses and generate some more nervous energy. The atmosphere was a just a bit too safe, a bit too flat for this kind of alternative writing.
Submarine plays at theSpace on Niddry St (venue 9) until August 29 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.