Seb Fear – Peddling
Coast to Coast are a lively company of young theatre makers who are steadily building a reputation for presenting enthusiastic Norwich audiences with engaging productions.
They encompass a range of styles and themes, having looked into the #MeToo phenomenon with ‘About Lester’ and given us a wonderful bucolic romp with ‘Nowt as Queer as Folk’. Peddling takes us in a new direction with a thought provoking piece about the challenges facing a marginalised young lad in London struggling to find a way in life.
Written by Harry Melling, perhaps best known for playing Dudley Dursley in Harry Potter, this play staged at the Maddermarket Emerson Studio features a single performer who is simply referred to as ‘Boy’, highlighting the dismissal of the views and concerns of young people who do not fit the aggressive model of success thrust onto young adults these days.
He is played with a breathless intensity by Seb Fear, who draws us into the difficult world of a lad barely out of school yet stigmatised as a young offender and exploited by a gangmaster who sends him out to sell household items door-to-door in North London suburbs.
Directed by Charlie Douglas this production has a minimum of props and stage complexity, but still sets us into a number of convincing scenes where we see the Boy interact with others unseen. There is the occasional voice from the ether, and some effective music and sound effects but the concentration throughout the 70 minute performance is on the one person.
We see him waking up with a hangover in a field before being whisked off to set out with his tray of goods as a door-to-door peddler. Details emerge slowly that give us a clue about his troubled life, and then he knocks on one door where he suddenly realises he knows the person who lives there.
Seb Fear sounds occasionally confused and stumbling over some of the words he uses, but this is no failure as an actor – rather it is just right for the confusion and uncertainty that the Boy feels as he tries to discover both where he comes from and where he is heading. This is a powerful and captivating work, and should make us think about how we treat the many young people who have not been given a stable and secure start in life. This accomplished company has once again created a production that is enjoyable to watch while making us think about how poorly we support people in the difficult transition from child to adult when the family, if it exists, is just not enough. Seb Fear gives us a memorable character depiction in this faultless delivery of one of the most interesting new works in contemporary theatre.
Ever topical Coast to Coast are promising their next production, Last Night in Europe, will debut on 29th March at the Norwich Arts Centre. Find them at http://ctctheatrecomp.co.uk and find out more about this promising young company.
©Julian Swainson 2019