REVIEW: DNA, Wycombe Abbey Players, EdFringe 2022 ★★★☆☆

REVIEW: DNA, Wycombe Abbey Players, EdFringe 2022 ★★★☆☆

What would you do if you accidentally caused somebody’s death? Delving into the moral choices between life and death, this re-telling of Dennis Kelly’s 2007 piece, DNA hits its mark while transforming from funny to fearful. The dark-comedy that portrays theme’s of peer-pressure, morality and our own existence – with a little death sprinkled in – is a uniquely written script. The fast paced, overlapping dialogue gives this one hour show a break-neck tempo which was delivered authentically well by the young women of Wycombe Abbey School who had us strapped in safely for the ride, perhaps at times, a little too safely. 

The story follows a young group of people at school who come to unexpectedly discover that they may have just become… murderers? We follow the gang, in panic, as they debate and discuss how they can crawl themselves out of this mess but in turn, only find themselves digging a deeper hole leading back to the corpses they had already buried. 

This script lends itself to being fast paced, frantic and tense. The cast definitely stayed true to the original writing style and the director showed considerable effort in allowing that translation to be portrayed through the transitions as well, leaving very little room to breathe. These points however, were delivered exactly as expected. The show provided little to no surprises outside of what was written for them. There were glimpses of great ideas which displayed the potential for creativity that just was never fully capitalized on.

This, however, did serve a positive purpose. It allowed focus on the actors and the dialogue itself. The essentials of theatre. The script delves into the moral choices between life and death, DNA and our existence in this vast universe. What would you do if you accidentally caused somebody’s death? What would you do if you accidentally framed somebody else? Then, what if you found the person never died in the first place? What if, through all this, said person was, in point of fact, your friend? Would you feel secure in your own existence? Would you spiral? Question all of it?

This show is a well oiled piece with a lot of potential featuring a cast full of promise. They managed to put on a show which delivered the thrilling nature of the show with laughter and discomfort and other times was noticeably lacking oomph. This isn’t inherently a negative trait, it was simplistic, even down to the minimalist set. For me though, with the intimate venue especially, there was more potential for real discomfort and immersion here to really let us feel the darkness of this piece. 

Recommended Drink: Diplomatico Mantuano Rum, lace your discomfort in a dark rum and enjoy the humour that comes along with it.

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