Gbolahan Obisesan's playlet Mad About the Boy offers a short, sharp look at the current generation of teenagers and centres on the idea of respect: Dad (Jason Barnett) belongs to a generation who believed you should give respect; his Boy (Bayo Gbadamosi) belongs to one that demands it categorically. Somewhere between them is Man (Simon Darwen,) who says his generation earned their respect. Man is the school counselor, earnestly trying to help the Boy whose behaviour is getting increasingly out of control; his single father seems to be just as much in need of help to figure out what the hell to do with his son. Obisesan gives us a series of scenes between two or all three of the men, employing a risky form of dramatic poetry that sees the cast speedily alternating short lines, a technique with the potential to go horribly wrong.
But the writer's achieved a musicality to his text that the cast pull off slickly and with real emotion. In particular Obisesan employs the idea of the ever-changing meaning of language, words that mean one thing to Dad mean another to Boy and yet something else to Man: Repeating the words gives the language much of its rhythm while emphasising the almost-impossible task of getting father and son to understand each other. Director Ria Parry has all the scenes delivered directly to the audience, helping us connect with the characters' growing frustration. A rather bleak picture of what it's like to raise a teenager, but lyrically and powerfully written and performed.
Mad About the Boy by Gbolahan Obisesan is booking until the 16th of June at the Young Vic's Clare; then continuing on tour to Oxford, Malton, Manchester, Sheffield, Whitehaven and Bristol.
Running time: 50 minutes straight through.