Published October 8, 2015

What’s it all about?

The moral argument for whether a sexual relationship between a teacher and pupil can ever be appropriate is undoubtedly black and white, but the events leading to it rarely are. In Evan Placey’s edgy new play, audiences take an uncomfortable look at every horrifying, complicated and thought-provoking blurred line. Prepare to squirm.

While Consensual never attempts to justify the actions of the spectacularly misguided teacher Diane, taking a front row seat on her relationship with 15-year-old Freddie will monumentally screw with your head. At what point does caring go one step too far? And at what age does consent actually become consensual?

Who’s in it?

Consensual is one of a trio of productions playing this winter performed by the National Youth Theatre. This was my first NYT experience and I was genuinely blown away: had I not known these 18 to 25-year-olds were not a professional company, I’m not sure I would ever have noticed a difference. They give a tight, witty and engrossing performance, managing to both project both youthful classroom raucousness and encapsulate the gravitas of a handful of deadly serious scenes.

At the centre of the dysfunctional coupling is Oscar Porter-Brentford, who shows thrilling potential as Freddie; messed up and off balance at 22, and, as the second act takes us back to the night the line was crossed, disconcertingly confident and boisterous at 15. Lauren Lyle is impressively confident as Diane, playing with both Freddie and the audiences’ head as she manipulates memories and actions in an attempt to exonerate herself from an unforgivable act.

What should I look out for?

Scene changes where school kids turn potty-mouthed rappers.

Bantz. Placey is king of the comebacks.

In a nutshell?

Challenging, intense, thought-provoking and impeccably performed, the National Youth Theatre shows the West End how it’s done in Evan Placey’s fresh, edgy drama.

What’s being said on Twitter?

Will I like it?

It’s hugely satisfying to see a play where you are forced to challenge your own beliefs, even if it does make for uncomfortable viewing sometimes. So yes, if you’re in the market for thought-provoking, insightful drama head to the Ambassadors Theatre and watch the stars of tomorrow show us how it’s done.  

Consensual is playing at the Ambassadors Theatre alongside Wuthering Heights and The Merchant Of Venice until 4 December. You can book tickets through us here.

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