Talk about shit-town syndrome: Our Town Needs A Nando’s leaves the audience in no doubt that growing up in a North Wales seaside town is no picnic.
Young Everyman & Playhouse graduate Samantha O’Rourke details a Rhyl full of creeps, boredom and a distinct lack of flame-grilled poultry. Our five protagonists, a Welsh schoolgirl and her mysteriously scouse classmates, certainly take a dim view of their adolescent lives, which are chock-full of boys (and girls), drama-class assignments and Issues.
The somewhat unlikely sisterhood are sweary, bolshy and ultimately fragile, trying to make sense of sexuality, patriarchy and a tick-list of teen melodrama concerns: comparisons with Derry Girls, Community and Hollyoaks are not wide of the mark, but Our Town… is more One Tree Rhyl.
Where Our Town Needs A Nando’s succeeds is in its authentic, fizzing banter between the gang (three of them YEP graduates), which results in several laughs, particularly some face-slappingly vulgar lines deadpanned by new girl Chloe (Jada-Li Warrican). The tight cast have all worked some superb grace notes into their deliveries: Kalli Tant’s dissatisfied Beth is already an accomplished scene-stealer; Chloe Hughes makes the most of her lines as the wayward, prickly Beth. Plenty in the audience yummed it up.
However here’s a lot to pack in (and unpack) and the play feels inexplicably long. When the play sags in its second half, where monologue follows soliloquy, Our Town… becomes didactic and oddly dull as the need to advance the thin plot takes precedence before being abruptly switched off.
Our Town Needs A Nando’s functions better as a showcase for the talents of the cast and crew than it does a rounded production. It also feels like it might be a tilt at a refresh for the Everyman, perhaps a recall to its origins: challenging, political, local. It will be interesting to see where the E&P go under new Creative Director Suba Das and whether Our Town… is the start of something new.
Our Town Needs A Nandos
Until 2 July
• Photographs by Mhairi Bell-Moodie