Review: Winter of our Discotheque

The Winter of Our Discotheque
RADA Studios
By Tess Humphrey

4 *

Beginning in a public school dorm room, Alex (Charlie Field) and Mama (Lily Cooper) ‘yah’ us into a false sense of satirical security. We chuckle at their posh accents and their ludicrous ideas of entitlement. We settle in for a night of laughing at the aristocracy and their spoilt, brattish heirs.

The arrival of the new boy at school Laurie (George Grey) has us spiraling further into the absurd debauchery of these seemingly bored teens. However, as the performance unfolds we slip into something darker. Grey is skillfully portraying a youth struggling with Autism and mental heath issues with an honesty that must be commended while Field incrementally pushes us to laugh at his substance abuse. Cooper’s character Mama is reassuring in her care and kindness but is the embodiment of the bizarre and dangerous school law that transcends the rule of any external authority.

The show is a beautifully crafted game of chicken between performers and audience; who will blink first? The audience, of course. The performance is unnervingly and impressively dark and comical in equal measure.

But for all the extremes presented in this play (to great and dramatic effect) it is something far subtler that is most notable. Writer Tess Humphrey masterfully represents a teenage understanding of the complex, beautiful and queer. Mama’s reaction to Laurie’s secret cross-dressing is messy, confused, tender and beautiful. It rings true with such moving clarity that it was certainly the most poignant part of the play.

The Winter of Our Discotheque is a dark and powerful satire that dares you to laugh even in the most serious of moments but also presents a delicate understanding of the complexities of gender and sexuality.

‘If I put this beer can on a saucer, is it now a cup?’

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© Janina Smith 2016

This show has now finished, but for details of future performances visit their Facebook Page.

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