This Is Our Youth

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Warren, wasting his life, has been thrown out of his father’s house. Stealing a large sum of money he arrives at Dennis’ apartment, but in this squalid, drug- ridden bolt- hole he will probably not find the freedom from city life that he craves. Warren has been existing for the next high, the next weed-induced buzz, and his dealer, Dennis, holds him in as much contempt as his father. But Dennis is a parasite, clinging with vituperative relish on the younger, weaker Warren, enumerating his faults, glorying in his superiority. ‘I’m the basis for, like, half your personality!’ he informs Warren. Like any parasite, his long, angry speeches are hiding a barely realized self-hatred. Paul Barker plays Dennis with a superb sense of self- satisfied irony. Even when angry, when physically attacking Warren, a sardonic smirk hovers on his lips. Irony has neutered his anger, just as it has neutered the hope he is trying to replace with drugs. What Warren is trying to cover up, as much with drugs as with his continual, awkward attempts to be nice, is the shadow of his murdered sister. Warren is played extremely well by Casey Genin, who captures his geeky good nature, both when he is cowed by Dennis’ aggression, and when he is trying to seduce Jessica. Jessica, fancied by Warren and a prospective buyer for Dennis, is full of opinions. The lethargic, increasingly tense atmosphere that the two men artfully create is broken when she emerges, buzzing with energy and anger. At first dismissive, then receptive to Warren’s opinions and advances, Kassandra Jackson personifies the role of a belligerent college girl on the edge of womanhood. But for all her confidence, her assertion ‘What you’re like now has nothing to do with what you’re gonna be’ is carefully undermined. This isn’t a play about the death of youth and the birth of maturity. It is about the blossoming of the young in the face of adversity and tragedy. And it is definitely worth watching. By Timothy Sherwin

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