Declan Greene’s quick-fire play about being a teenage outsider bursts with a startling visceral energy.
Sebastian and Claryssa love to take the piss out of each other: she is an emo poet; he smells bad and likes comic books; everyone in school thinks they are freaks. As a backdrop, Greene evokes a harsh and lonely world where parents are in a mess, bullies are violent and everyone seems dead against his heroes.
The two kids have to take on the characters of all the people in their lives in order to re-enact what happened one night, when they were humiliated and hurt in a park by their classmates, and the disastrous series of events that followed.
If director Prasanna Puwanarajah was ever intimidated by the unpredictable, anarchic script, it doesn’t show. In the tiny black-box attic space at the Bush, where ‘Moth’ makes its London debut, a small square of darkened stage is just a couple of inches from the audience’s feet. Its closeness and size is disorientating, and at times we’re made to feel as if the set is a non-place and we are simply floating in Sebastian and Claryssa’s heads. Jack Knowles’s excellent lighting design, with strips of bulbs above the actors that flash almost blindingly bright, also adds to this intensity.
The two actors, Jordan Mifsud and Stacey Gregg, give it their all, blasting you with the confused tension inherent in an adolescent’s daily struggle. In all, ‘Moth’ is a brutal example of how terrifying being a teen can be.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell