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Screens review at Theatre503, London – ‘searing take on identity politics’

Declan Perring and Nadia Hynes in Screens at Theatre503. Photo: Pank Sethi Declan Perring and Nadia Hynes in Screens at Theatre503. Photo: Pank Sethi

You’d be forgiven, from its title and marketing, for thinking Screens is yet another theatrical pulse check on our relationship with technology. And, for at least the first fifteen minutes, it is, before it erupts very suddenly into a searing take on identity politics.

We are introduced to a British Turkish Cypriot family, who are close in their way and yet entirely separate, each bearing differently the weight of their immigrant history. Stephen Laughton’s well-observed script examines how we control, alter and delete ourselves to suit the ones we’re with – proud leftie to class snob, supportive sister to homophobic abuser.

Technology ends up taking a back seat, but the use of video projections is both simple and seamless. It’s one of the more effective efforts to convey our symbiotic relationship with technology on stage (although at one point, factual accuracy over Grindr’s terms of service is sacrificed for a visual dick joke).

Even with a brutally choreographed bit of onstage violence, the most squirm-inducing scene is a Grindr meet-up from at least the fifth circle of hell, which plays out like a blind date with the Guardian’s comment section. It’s scorching and funny and totally miserable, nailing that sinking feeling when you realise someone is fascinated not with you, but with your story.

Though Laughton uses his play to explore both the burden and power to be found in cultural identity, he is careful not to fall on either side. But it is hard not to come away feeling anxious for the future of Generation Brexit, who, after the events of June 23, may now believe that where they come from matters more than who they are.

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Strong performances, slick staging and a unpredictable script elevate this timely drama about identity