What do you young people do when confronted with an unconscious friend? That is the question posed by Martin Malcolm’s powerful new play, NightFlyer, set in Bristol.
After a night of drinking, and we suspect, more, Jamster (Matthew Emeny) and Blowtorch (Harvey Bassett) are faced with the prospect of ending their night early due to the inebriated and unconscious state of their friend Spook (Jack Cottrell). However, the two respond differently to the situation. The arrival of two girls, Gennette (Anishka Klass) and Chloe (Hannah Kelly) further pull the boys apart with the purpose of going on for more partying or looking after Spook. Directed by James Woodhams, this play feels very real and completely on point for its handling of the situation.
The subject matter of this play could very well have come across as simple or naff, but at no point does it seem like that. Instead Martin’s play leaves us on the edge of our seat from the word go as he confronts much more than a passed out friend. Matthew plays a closet homosexual dealing with the memories of another friend’s death, with extreme poise, whilst Hannah’s sadistic Chloe is both fearsome and vulnerable. Harvey brings rowdiness and energy to Blowtorch, whilst Anishka’s Gennette, the only sensible one in the group, is played with a growing sense of confidence and maturity.
This is kids on the verge of maturity, tackling all sorts of issues for which they are not quite ready but from which they will grow. With not a moment’s rest in Martin’s play, it never feels like he is talking down to young people. Instead he paints a real picture of adolescence.
A real coming of age drama from Martin Malcolm played out fantastically by a group of talented young actors. Special mention to Jack who plays the almost always inebriated Spook, having to deal with a long protracted vomit bit, being kicked and fallen on, thrown about and kissed. He does so with complete naturalism. It was easy to forget that he was actually acting.
Highlight of the show – the moments between Chloe and Blowtorch, with Chloe revealing her sadistic nature, and then Gennette and Jamster trying but failing to bond over religion.