Chrysalis Festival: Queer Fish & Dark Mechanics

The future of the world doesn't look too good according to two recent youth theatre plays performed at this year's Chrysalis Festival.

Queer Fish (★★★☆☆) by Reading Rep is a sinister play that shows young people at odds with today's world, escaping instead into drug abuse and violence. A contemporary twist on Welsh's Trainspotting, it touches on the apathy and resent felt by a younger generation for a society which has pushed them aside. Fortunately, it doesn't take itself too seriously, with characters switching between profound moments of insight, and hilarious senseless ramblings. Balancing silly humour with serious themes of drug abuse takes skill, and a knack for timing, which seems to come naturally to the three main female performers. At least the future of theatre doesn't seem so bleak.

Dark Mechanics (★★★☆☆) by Firefly Arts has a worryingly similar message; a new generation is forced by its predecessors into a violent, competitive existence. Here the facade of civilisation has crumbled, and all that remains is a violent, animalistic need to get to the top in order to survive – think Hunger Games meets 1984. Appearing as mouse-like creatures, the actors dart frantically around the stage, fighting and itching, like lab rats at the centre of a maze. With menacing music, violence and lots of manic shouting about Kim Kardashian, the audience are convinced that the dystopian future of Orwellian novels isn't so far away.

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