“Now it’s time to go out, because that’s all there is isn’t it? At least we’ve got that to look forward to. That’s what being young is all about. Isn’t it?” Chapel Street is bleak. Too bleak. For any parent of a teenager watching, it must be almost unbearable. Luke Barnes’ script interweaves the two monologues of a girl and a boy on a night out. She is 14 and in school. He is 25 and on the dole. She worries about what other people think of her. He tries to come to terms with a life lacking prospects. Eventually, in an episode of understated tragedy, the two of them briefly cross paths.
Undoubtedly it is when this happens that the play is at its strongest. Allowing an audience access to the thoughts of different characters on the same subject may be a well-worn device, but it gives the script some much needed humour and subtlety.
Ria Zmitrowicz brings a clumsy naivety to the part of the girl and an excellent ear for comic timing. Cary Crankson’s performance as the boy is equally well-judged – deftly balancing defensiveness and vulnerability.
There are times when it feels like the lines have been forced into the play rather than stemming naturally from it. One wonders how much Barnes has lifted verbatim from his own or overheard conversations. But the play’s two voices are so searingly real that this is a minor quibble.