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Back Down

A scene from Back Down at Birmingham Repertory Theatre

This comedy about three friends’ attempt to conquer Snowdon is the first play by Birmingham performance poet Steven Camden, also known as Polarbear.

Turning to his own life for inspiration, Camden’s tale recreates an attempt to climb Snowdon when he was a teenager.

Much like Camden’s own adventure, the three teenage characters Luke, Zia and Tommy head off to the hills without the slightest idea of what they will face.

It’s their one big adventure before Luke leaves for university and for each of them the climb represents something different – but it does not turn out quite as they expected.

Camden draws on his talents as a performance poet for dialogue which is fast-paced, savvy and funny. The conversations are packed full of cultural and geographical references, many of which will be familiar to a Birmingham audience but may not all be known further afield. There is plenty of banter between the boys with quick-fire responses aimed to keep the relationships on the boil.

Waleed Akhtar, Sam Cole and Lawrence Walker are all in fine form as the boys although at times they are so rapid with their speech that the content is difficult to hear. A slight decrease in pace would help with the clarity of diction.

No attempt is made to realistically replicate the scenery of Snowdonia with the set. In the small space of Birmingham Rep’s Door we know that a ladder is their tent and a few boxes a cliff edge.

Camden clearly has talent as a playwright as he develops his story and the relationships between the boys through their big adventure. This light-hearted romp also reveals a great deal about male friendships on the cusp of change and the difficulties faced by teenagers in expressing their feelings about these relationships.

Dates: February 26-March 7, PN March 2, then touring until May 24

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Verdict
Comedy about three teenagers is a fast-paced adventure story that would benefit from clearer diction
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