Apples is about sex. Sex, and drugs. And underage drinking. Mostly it’s about sex. Normally that might make for some interesting theatre: something controversial, surprising, or thought-provoking. But not this play. This play presents the stories of six secondary school students as they stumble their way through life, blissfully unaware of the reality of the world and the consequences of their actions until it all comes crashing down around them. It might have been tragic, if it wasn’t all so familiar. Aside from being set in Middlesbrough, it’s nothing new.
Even when things get serious – a boy is beaten by his father, a girl passes out in a bedroom and is subsequently raped, another girl finds out that her mother has lung cancer – there is no originality to the plot. These issues have been played out on stage, in film and on TV so many times before. The characters are two-dimensional and they show no soul. Even the somewhat endearing, socially-awkward Adam who stammers his way through a love-speech is not enough to captivate. Not even when he pulls down his jeans and shoves a hand in his pants to masturbate. Come on, is anyone really going to be shocked by that?
To succeed, this production needed something different. At least Twilight gave us sparkly vampires to liven up the ordeals of annoying teenagers. The director tries to make it work, but unfortunately no amount of music (even if it is The Beatles) or lighting effects (84 of them) can alter the fact that the theme of this play has been done to death.
Am I just a jaded postgrad with no patience for teenage angst? Perhaps. That doesn’t change the fact that I’ve seen this all before, probably in an episode of Skins. That show wasn’t very good either.