Review: DNA ***

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Crucible Studio, Sheffield

A SHOW aimed at teenagers, it seemed appropriate to watch DNA at a lunchtime matinee, with the target audience.

The downside to this is that teenage audiences can, to generalise horrendously, be a little less patient than evening crowds and, proving the cliche, there was a lot of talking, playing with mobile phones and the like. Not, however, once Dennis Kelly’s gripping story began.

A sort of ASBO version of Donna Tartt’s A Secret History, Kelly’s sparse script involves a group of schoolmates who kill a fellow teenager. While their actions are deliberate, the results are unintended, and the group find themselves in a situation spiralling out of control.

In a virtually wordless performance as Phil, James Alexandrou, best known as Martin Fowler in EastEnders, takes charge of the situation. Playing Phil somewhere on the autistic spectrum, that he holds the room full of teenagers with minimum dialogue speaks volumes about his stage presence.

Kelly’s twisting, dark and fascinating play has impressive depth. The moment when Phil, having literally chewed it over, arrives at a solution to the dilemma, is worthy of the recent Sherlock TV series.

The script is largely well served by a youthful cast, aside from the miscasting of Rhys Jennings as the supposedly scary gang leader.

SJT, Scarborough, April 30 to May 2.