Student Reviews – DNA by Dennis Kelly

REVIEW 1    by Louise Hosking – East Bergholt High School

DNA By Dennis Kelly and performed by The New Wolsey Young Company Production Showing at the New Wolsey Studio from Tuesday 18th – Saturday 22nd October

DNA is about a group of teenagers who have done something really bad… So bad, they think they’ve killed someone! In a rushed panic, they come up with a plan to cover up the crime but, it goes horribly wrong and unites them in a bizarre way. The audience watches as Kelly’s words spring to life as the story unravels. Dennis Kelly is a British writer and a lot of his stories have dark, twisted meanings and sometimes a not very particularly happy ending.

My personal favourite character was Phil (played by Sam Pote). Phil was usually on stage eating and being completely oblivious to what was happening. The post-show talk with the cast showed that Sam wouldn’t eat anything before the play because of how much he ate on stage! But when he did say something, it was usually rather intelligent since he was actually the mastermind behind the plans. A thinker on his feet, Phil was a delight to watch. I thought that Mark (Freddy Legg) and Jan (Charlotte Deverell) had a very interesting relationship and were also very well portrayed. They were constantly at each other’s throats with short, snappy sentences and long pauses but only when trying to build tension. It was also intriguing to watch them very slowly drift apart. They were very well cast! John Tate (Tom Beattie) was a weirdly-abusive driving force in the group. The big-headed character was only on stage for a few scenes and showed his power and intimidation. I think there were some places where he was a little hard to understand because of how much he was shouting but overall, he performed really well.

The set was very minimal and in some ways, i feel it was lacking something. Consisting of just a few poles with lights on, it was very empty. I think that the director Rob Salmon could’ve had a little something to show scene changes and where the characters were. The lighting was very bright but did help the atmosphere. The sudden beats in between lines did also help the atmosphere but, it was REALLY loud and, I don’t think it needed to be as loud as it was.

With all this together I did enjoy the play but, I expected a little more with the set and how they showed changes as that I felt was a drawback. The actors however were beautifully cast and I believed in all of them.

Please note: DNA includes strong language, drinking on stage and content makes it suitable for 13 and above.

REVIEW 2      by Katie-May Harper – East Bergholt High School

DNA- Written by Dennis Kelly – Directed by Rob Salmon and Performed and Presented by New Wolsey Young Company. The New Wolsey Studio till Saturday

 This contemporary play focuses on a group of school students who have done something really bad. After trying to cover it up and accidently framing someone innocent, they are soon to realise that what they thought was a disaster might not be that bad. However – things then spiral downward to tragedy.

This short but well-crafted performance was set in modern times. It was a serious plot but had some good humorous elements to lighten the mood. This play consisted of actors aged 16-22 who put on a performance that was both very engaging and exciting to watch. The characters were very well cast, each of them having an individual identity. This lead to them being very close as friends in the play and some even relatable for the audience. At times it was difficult to keep up with who each character was talking about, as there were lots of characters to remember, but this wasn’t too much of a problem.

In terms of staging it was very minimal, and challenging at times to know where the characters were as there were no scene changes. You only knew once the lines indicated when they were at different places. Lighting was good, dimming at changes in scene and characters then brightening up again for the scene start. However, at the start and during the performance there were some vivid lighting which needed to be cautioned and mentioned for anyone who struggles with bright lights.

Sound effects were very effective and gave great tension throughout the performance. But the sound effects were also very loud at times.

The characters as I understand had to provide their own costumes and very successfully portrayed their character and personality through their chosen costume. There weren’t many props, but the props there were, were very effective and fitted in with the time period well.

Overall the director did a wonderful job of bringing out what was a difficult script and making it a great performance. I did enjoy it, but from a reviewer’s perspective there were a few little details that could possibly have been adjusted. However great use of staging, wonderful projection and well carried out lines meant this was a very enjoyable if challenging show .

There was strong language throughout but that couldn’t have been avoided as it suited the character’s personality. However it wouldn’t be recommend for children under the age of 14 without a suitable adult.


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