19 October 2012

The Static at the Riverside

Everything about The Static is brilliant.

But let's explain what it is first.

The Static is a coming of age story with a twist. Sparky is the ADHD teenager who survives on Ritalin and large headphones that he wears constantly to keep the rest of the world out.

Then he discovers that he can will things to happen and another girl in the school can do the same. She has family problems, including a step father with a dubious intentions. Then there's the failed classroom teacher who now just does special needs children and the PE teacher who left his last school under a (sexual) cloud.

The story goes on from there.

The opening sets the mood for the evening. All that is on the stage is a set of white school lockers on which a film is played of a boy marching through school corridors to loud pulsing music.

Then as the boy marches towards us the lockers part and the film boy becomes a real boy. Hello Sparky.

The story moves rapidly from scene to scene with the four actors moving energetically and with urgency.

Their movements are carefully choreographed and there are elements of the circus and dance in this. The lockers become a roof that the boy and girl climb on, objects are thrown between them as they move around the stage, there are balletic lifts and rolls, and even the do-your-trust-your-friend move of falling backwards expecting to be caught. It is all very marvellous and very exhilarating.

But all the cleverness does nothing to detract from the story that motors on as relentlessly as the scene changes and the characters movements. The story builds coherently and then jumps sideways a couple of times so that the ending is a mystery right up to the point that you get there.

This is a Scottish theatre company, ThickSkin, and a Scottish cast which makes the obvious reference point Gregory's Girl, and that is a good and fair comparison.

 Unusually the video trailer does actually tell you something meaningful about the play, so here it is.

The end result of all this was a truly sensational evening in which the end of the play led to a large release of suppressed energy in the form of whoops, cheers and ridiculously enthusiastic clapping. And with a packed house that was a lot of noise.

One day I'll get around to compiling that list of exceptional plays that make up under 5% of what I see, and The Static will definitely be in that list. It's intelligent, faultless and fun.

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