Home » Reviews » Off West End » The Precariat, Finborough Theatre

The Precariat, Finborough Theatre

Emily Pulham

Directed by Chris Dunkley
★★★★
Pros: All of the actors are excellent, and convincing. A very minimal set is cleverly utilised to add conviction to the scenes, and the theatre has a great atmosphere.
Cons: Some of the more political rants don’t always sound true to the characters who are speaking them, and feel a little preachy (although the rants are not without purpose).
Our Verdict: A wonderful piece – well cast, moving, enjoyable, thought provoking and darkly humorous.
Courtesy of the Finborough Theatre
The Precariat is a play about coming of age in low-income North London. It takes place in the small but charming and atmospheric Finborough Theatre in Earl’s Court. The play begins with very little fanfare, but the audience is quickly thrown into the world of Fin- a clever and sensible teen faced with a difficult home life and the hopelessness of the limited options available for his future. 
Fin is a morally respectable, likable, and ‘good’ kid, but his world becomes quite a depressing place as we see his interaction with his tearaway (and absent) brother, alcoholic father, and irresponsible mother. Fin is surrounded by people, but in essence he is always alone, with his only actual friend being a voice on a fast-food drive through. 
An incredibly well cast Scott Chambers plays the lead role of Fin, and his acting is simply sublime. Chambers is entirely believable in his portrayal of modern teen angst, anguish, and frustration. I found myself overwhelmed with compassion for him, as he seemed to me an incredibly true to life portrayal of a teen in what is oft referred to as ‘Broken Britain’. I’m entirely convinced I’ve walked past this same character time and time again in the North-East outskirts of London.
Equally wonderful is Fin’s Mum, played by Kirsty Besterman. Cleverly acted, with her tongue firmly in her cheek, she’s a sweet and lovable character but effectively a terrible parent – and one who is completely and utterly unaware of it. Her role is poignant in that most of what she says and does is genuinely funny, but there’s a bit of a dark twist to it. We laugh (quite a lot) but the sad truth is that this comical caricature is actually entirely believable as a modern day ‘laissez faire’ parent (and, purposely, there’s something about that that isn’t funny at all).
The set is minimalist but well thought out, and makes the most out of the props provided. A series of television screens and lighting adjustments allow for set changes (and action) to occur without moving a muscle. There is also a very, very creative use of empty blank CD cases in order to add characters to the cast.
There certainly is a lot to take away from this piece. It is thought provoking, and, if I’m honest, absolutely heart-breaking in the bleakness it presents. Fin is a character on a stage, but the audience is painfully aware that Fin exists thousands of times over in the real world. 
The piece is rife with the frustration of all the characters at their station in life, leading to frequent statistical rants about society’s issues and how they affect those less well off. The only slight criticism I have with the play is that I wasn’t wholly convinced by these rants. The dialogue of the show is so fluid and flows gorgeously, but the rants have a slightly more scripted quality to them and the subject matter of some (particularly from the alcoholic thief father) seemed almost out of character. 
I do see the importance of including them so that we understand specifically why the characters remain so frustrated, but the language and tone seem to get so much clearer during them, that they don’t always sound true to the characters speaking them. However, the overall rage, frustration, and desolation of the characters is never questioned, which is testimony to a fantastic script and a very talented cast.
See this play with people who love a good discussion, as The Precariat will leave you turning the subject matter over and over again in your head. It’s brilliant, well acted, and (tragically) true to life. Young, old, rich, poor – it doesn’t matter – this will absolutely strike a nerve in you. Don’t miss it.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below! 

The Precariat runs at Finborough Theatre until 30th July 2013.

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