Theatre Review: This adaptation of Vernon God Little was the latest production from the prolific performing arts department at the Henley College.
The play tells the story of an American teenager who is accused of being involved in a shooting at the local high school.
Inspired by real life events, the play uses Vernon’s predicament to take satirical swipes at American society, most notably the media and its insatiable appetite for its next sensationalist headline, regardless of the human cost.
As repair-man-turned-anchorman, Perry Williams gave the stand-out performance of the night providing the perfect balance of charm and sleaze required to convince in the role.
Lewis Jenkins also gave a commendable performance in the title role, and managed to imbue Vernon with the necessary sensitivity to win over the audience.
Amongst the supporting cast, credit must go to George Hyde who gave not one, but two, excellent performances as both an Indian lawyer and a Mexican border guard.
I can genuinely say I found myself entertained, laughing out loud on more than one occasion, but I couldn’t help feel this play was more akin to Ben Elton’s Popcorn than to Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye or Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn which are both name-checked in the programme.
For this audience member, there was little of the moral complexity evident that has made those works so memorable. This was a play that wore its message on its sleeve and while the student cast were clearly working hard with the material they had, I regret to say subtlety was not the order of the day.
The original novel by DBC Pierre won the Booker Prize in 2003, so perhaps I am alone in my reservations, but I felt that such complex issues as those it sought to address were ill-served by such a simplistic and inconsequential piece of theatre as this.
Vernon God Little
Studio theatre, The Henley College
Thursday, March 27