facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
# I MISS THEATRE
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen.

Absolute Beginners

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 21 April 2008

The late 1950s, the dawn of the teenager; this is the setting for Absolute Beginners. The nation's youth is beginning to find its voice and exercise its right to free speech, values are changing, tensions are high. Opportunities are there, but you have to find the right one. Matthew Amer attended the press night of this new collaborative production at the Lyric Hammersmith.

London, a sprawling metropolis of high rises and basement bars. The first thing that strikes the audience about this production is Lizzie Clachan's multi-level design. Like huge magical building blocks, Clachan's set moves around the stage and reveals hidden secrets, creating skylines that are a constant reminder of the size of the city. Mostly monochrome, but with a splash of colour, it signals the change of eras.

At the centre of the action is the unnamed Photo Boy, charismatically played by Sid Mitchell. As his name suggests, he is obsessed with taking pictures and rarely seen without his camera. He doesn't want to be a tax payer, or 'citizen' as they are referred to; his, like, many of his contemporaries, is a free thinking way of life.

Though Photo Boy is the consummate idealist, reality invades his world. His girlfriend sleeps around and won't settle down until he has money, his father is ignored by his mother, there is tension between generations, classes and races. In 2007, to hear vehemently racist chanting and casual use of the word 'spade' is both shocking and chilling.

The tension builds to rioting, when the touch of director Liam Steel can be clearly seen. Previously a key member of physical theatre company DV8 and now director of Stan Wont Dance, Steel has created a sequence using sound, projection, physicality and Clachan’s shifting set to give life to the vicious terror of the fighting.

Roy Williams, who has adapted the play from Colin MacInnes's novel, has captured a rhythm of speech and a sense of youth that keeps the dialogue vibrant and tuneful to the ear, while Mitchell's central performance is supported by an ensemble cast including Tom Stuart as the wonderfully camp and devastatingly direct Hoplite, and Micah Balfour as Mr Cool, who generally lives up to his name, giving a huge impact when his exterior wall crumbles.

Absolute Beginners plays at the Lyric Hammersmith until 26 May.

MA

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.