A transporting journey around the city in the hands of an army of teens.
Shows at the Edinburgh fringe festival can often take you to some startling places. Perhaps one of the most surprising this year is in ‘Forever Young’, which leads you down one of the city’s back streets to sit with a teenager while they smoke something distinctly pungent through a pipe fashioned out of an apple. It’s the sort of odd, risky, but ultimately resourceful thing you might do when you’re 16.
Transporting you to your rebellious teenage-self is what ‘Forever Young’ is all about. Staged by Australian company One Step At a Time Like This, with the help of a bunch of young Irish performers, the show is a journey through the city for one person. Through text messages, phone calls and the odd firm shove in the right direction, an army of teenagers pass you between them and push you into their world. ‘Can you see me?’ the first text says, and, as you look around the public park you’ve been told to arrive in, it’s hard to spot anyone that looks vaguely like they might be in a show. Until suddenly you spot someone waving, you begin to walk up to them and they run round a corner.
For most of ‘Forever Young’ you’re eight steps behind a young person – there’s a lot of walking, and you’re outside for most of it, so come prepared. With headphones on, scruffy bags at their side, looking down at their phones, the performers dodge and weave through the crowd until you lose them. Then another pops up. In short interactions you’re made to think about your life: who you were, where you are now, whether you’ve changed, whether you’d steal from a shop, if you’d smoke weed down a back alley and wash the taste down with a shot of vodka. Do you still want to change the world? It’s a vivid evocation of the teen mind and a reminder of how our changing, morphing adolescent brains once made sense of the world.
It finishes with a kind of teenage consultancy, where your choices throughout the show are laid out before you. ‘Forever Young’ is a beautiful reminder that teenagers are complex beings, that you were one once (remember that?) and that it’s best to keep a little bit of that young idealism and rebellion with you, in whatever way you can.