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The Fall review at Finborough Theatre, London – ‘sets new standard for youth theatre’

Oliver Clayton and Latanya Peterkin in National Youth Theatre's The Fall at Finborough Theatre, London. Photo: Helen Maybanks Oliver Clayton and Latanya Peterkin in National Youth Theatre's The Fall at Finborough Theatre, London. Photo: Helen Maybanks
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James Fritz’s Ross and Rachel was an Edinburgh Fringe 2015 hit and transferred to New York as part of the Brits Off Broadway festival earlier this year. Fritz’s The Fall is a textured and engaging play, commissioned by National Youth Theatre as part of its August residency at London’s Finborough. This play could undoubtedly have a future professional life, but is perfectly pitched as a play for young actors.

The Fall is made up of three loosely connected scenes about ageing: two teenagers seeing a dead body for the first time; a married couple’s difficulty and frustration while caring for an ageing parent and supporting their child; and a Soylent Green-tinged dystopia in which older folks are kept in near squalor and tempted by the offer of cash settlements for their families if they agree to be euthanised.

With a talented cast and stand-out performances from Hannah Farnhill and Katya Morrison, this is an impressive production of a non-naturalistic text from director Matt Harrison.

Each scene jump-cuts forward in time, either a few seconds or several years at a time, making a single hour’s stage time feel like swallowing several lifetimes whole. As we fall inexorably forward, every character works hard to hold time back – singing songs in full, dancing, remembering video games and at one point repeating “I’m not ready. It’s not fair” over and over again – the heartbreaking response of a man (James Morley) caught in the rent trap realising he must quit his job to care for his mother.

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Verdict
Exceptional new play charges through life at breakneck speed and sets the standard for youth theatre commissions
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