I find it’s hard to put into words the experience I had from watching Live Theatre’s production of We are the best by Rebecca Glendenning. Which, when thinking back about graphic novels I’ve read, kind of fits for me.
When walking into the world that has been created for us in Live Theatre’s main stage, you find yourself in a 1980s youth centre, with skate ramps and music room all lovingly created out of chipboard. It smacks of youth centre and ‘getting the job done’ through any means. The way that this is transformed into bedrooms, houses, school, and festival stages is great fun, with cast sliding down and, trying to, slide up the ramps. And this is really it with the show: it’s fun and packed with loads of laughs but, if you’re looking for something with a punch, you won’t find it here. But that’s ok.
Changing the world
We are the best is a real coming-of-age piece which immerses you in the graphic novel genre while on stage. The story revolves around thirteen-year-old Bobo, a nervous girl trying to make sense of her world, and her friend Klara, chaotic and headstrong on the outside but still searching for where she fits in on the inside. The pair bring the placid and polite Hedwig into their world and show her that there’s more than one way to be yourself. This is all done through the thirteen-year-old’s perspective of ‘Punk’ and with this they change the world, or in the words of Bobo, ‘at least their own world’.
Music and ‘Gig Theatre’ lovers will really feel at home with this show even if, like me, you’ll be left wanting more songs.
Bethany Morris is great as Bobo, really bringing out the anxiety of the role, while Bridget Marumo effortlessly shows teenage angst and the ‘punk’ ethos. Elena Porter has great versatility portraying the struggles of teen life and the transition from the twee hymn-singing church girl to the hardcore punk guitar-playing church girl. All three of them bring comedy and fun while also delivering some lovely sombre moments to the show.
The script is wonderfully written by Rebecca Glendenning, showcasing her range as a writer, with her brilliant one-liners and bitter-sweet heartfelt moments. She really has captured what it’s like to be a teenager from a broken home trying to understand themself.
The direction of this play must be mentioned, as Jack McNamara has created a world that feels so dark yet light, and so delicate but ‘Punk’. It’s really difficult to put your finger on it: while watching, you’re just waiting for the whole thing to shatter like glass.
This piece is truly worth a watch with beautiful moments of Bobo’s dad visiting her with a cardboard box as a head, and her mother’s angry goat imitations, to punk anarchy and songs like Sports are shit and in between is a show peppered with laughs. If you ever want to feel like a thirteen-year-old punk and change the world, then this is the show for you. It’s fun-filled family fun, with swearing. You’ll love it.