Tackling the raw impact of mental health on young men in particular, Jack Condon's new writing, If. Destroyed. Still. True. is currently showing at the Hope Theatre. When two old friends meet on their cliffside spot with a view over their hometown, it is evident that they are no longer the people they once were.
Returning from University where he is training to be a teacher, James (played by Theo Ancient) is keen to rekindle his friendship with his best mate John (played by Jack Condon) who remains trying to survive in the worn down area he is unable to escape. When James's new girlfriend, Charlotte (played by Whitney Kehinde), enters the mix too, it is clear to see the fresh barriers between them that create notable difference in character, and subsequent difficulties in understanding each other.
With John speaking in very colloquial terms- countless bouts of bad language and offensive terms- the piece is creatively written to accurately reflect the evolution of conversation, particularly with regards to the contrast in class, race and culture that is being communicated. His use of alcohol as well as lack of job stability and qualifications reflect only the surface of the bubbling emotions that cannot be revealed with his laddish persona. James, however, is determined to change the lives of those troubled students in his workplace, and now holds alternative values to that of his upbringing, that John has not been able to shake. Attempting to break down this divide, they desperately try to save their friendship before it's too late.
All three cast members bring immersive dialogue, which is highlighted in this instance by the intimate theatre space. The set, designed by Anna Kelsey, is sweet, and nicely fitted too, as well as lighting by Gabriel Finn that was able to turn the bright outcrop into a dark and starry sky with ease. Allowing the piece to be very funny in parts, yet bitterly moving in others, this show, directed by Sarah Stacey, explores themes like grief with honesty, while keeping the truth in the narrative of the characters and their backgrounds: the divisive nature of humanity, and ability to spiral when things become tough is more prevalent than ever. Despite this, there were moments of significance that lacked depth and intensity, though the general perception of the piece is still holding a powerful message.
If. Destroyed. Still. True. is a play with so much potential. Being in touch with current society and the issues presented, it displays an importance for the need to communicate and listen with one another, while being thoughtful about the interactions we have, as it is often impossible to know just what people are facing.