Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: S.E.N, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott.
“Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself”, reads one of the inspirational quotes on the classroom wall, a stark contrast to the fight going on in front of it. Teenagers Taylor and Aalia have ended up in an “intervention session” – something designed to help improve their learning – but neither wants to be there. As the gregarious, sex-obsessed Taylor makes racist comments about Aalia’s headscarf, the more intelligent Aalia responds with acerbic one-liners, but then resorts to calling Taylor’s mum a slag. Meanwhile, their floppy-haired teacher unsuccessfully attempts to impart life lessons through reading out pre-prepared questions, such as: “You’re in a car and the driver’s going too fast. What should you do?”
Young writer Holly McKinlay works in education, and the two sharply written and easily recognisable schoolgirls have the kind of authenticity that comes from real-life experience. The story is less developed and flounders, constrained by the limitations of a single classroom setting, as the girls attempt to blackmail their way out of yet more time under teacher supervision. While Akila Cristiano’s Aalia is understated, Olivia Duffin’s Taylor borders on caricature. A smoother style of direction is needed to make the production feel less disjointed.
Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 13 August 2015
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