Commentary: Youth in the Reagan era
Conversations of booze, drugs, and sex generated an outstanding audience response at the opening night of the Sock ‘n’ Buskin Theatre Company’s This is Our Youth Nov. 30.
The combination of the actors’ chemistry and director Iain Moggach’s passion for the script, written by American playwright Kenneth Lonergan, surely contributed to the crowd’s positive reception.
This Is Our Youth takes off as Warren Straub, played by Luke Bradley, reveals to Dennis Ziegler (Geoff Burnside) that he has stolen $15,000 from his father. This forces Warren to re-negotiate his own stance in life. The theme of morality continues throughout the production, highlighting the characters’ offbeat and animated humour.
The play also includes elements of 1980’s iconic imagery reminiscient of the Reagan youth culture. As Moggach writes in the production’s pamphlet, this is a play with a “ . . . great plot, deep characters, and an edge of controversy.”
Moggach’s comment is reflected in the stereotypical dorm room setting inscribed with 1980’s elements, like New Wave Zolo music references and T-shirts with political messages.
Bradley’s strong stage presence and edgy humour received laughter from the audience for his role as Warren, an awkward yet quirky teenager.
His performance complements the theme of controversy in the play as the audience witnesses Warren negotiating a place to stay with Dennis, as well as Dennis’s deep personal attachments to the objects he has stolen from his father.
The dark humour used throughout This is Our Youth seems historically sensitive in a situation where a 1980s adolescent is torn between his parents’ conservative ideals and the social pressures of appearing “good at heart.”