Fireface

The titular anti-heroes of Max Frisch's well-known 1958 play, 'The Fire Raisers', are destructive strangers, who turn up and torch a town. Kurt and Olga, the teenage arsonists in 'Fireface', are rather more homegrown terrorists – tyro pyros who scorch the society that would mould them into shape.

Marius von Mayenburg's 1997 play makes for a volatile mix of puberty and petty bourgeoisie. Mum and Dad 'decide what's normal'. The kids are 'half-finished adults' who rear up and rebel, first through incest, then with violence.

When his sister's new biker boyfriend is warmly embraced into the family fold, a jealous Kurt (Rupert Simonian) graduates from flambéing the odd blackbird to taking a match to his school. He burns his face off, obliterating any remaining hope of 'normality'.

Yet Kurt recovers his looks in JMK Award-winning director Sam Pritchard's misfiring production, which seeks to explode the play but hasn't the ideas to do so, instead flattening it into literalism.

Style wins out over substance, while the five actors perform in mismatched styles. It's left to Amanda Stoodley's rigidly compartmentalised set design, to supply meaning. In failing to critique teenage destruction as well as the parental regime, Pritchard gives a rash thumbs-up to rebellion of all shades.

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