top of page

Back in the Day | Dorfman Theatre (Connections Festival)

Back in the Day, which is written by Yasmeen Khan, was chosen by the Folkestone School for Girls as their play for the National Theatre Connections Festival. An annual theatre festival run by the National Theatre for young people, which encourages schools to develop and produce shows. This production was developed and run entirely by the students and this production was directed by Grace Arnold, Elena Campbell, Arabella Carter, Sabina Beinart-Smith, Ophelia Edmunds, Lily O'Connor, Molly Parker, Prisha Sapkota and Advika Swaminathan

Back in the Day follows four young students, Taz (Grace Arnold), Marnie (Elena Campbell), Sam (Lily O'Connor) and Remy (Molly Parker) who have been assigned by their teacher Miss Mahmoud (Prisha Sapkota) with promoting mental well-being in and around their school community. Despite initial resistance, they make a breakthrough when they decide to actualise a childhood dream of Miss Mahmoud, to visit a roller-skating disco. In a bizarre twist, they travel back in time to the 1987, and must work together to find a way back. 

Back in the Day, was a wonderful choice for this company of young performers, with the significant themes of mental health, social media, friendship and acceptance. Serving as a reminder to the audience, and the company, the significant negative effects of social media and suffering in silence can cause is neatly juxtaposed with the calmer but equally troubled 80s. That is not to say that the show isn't filled with comedy, witty jokes, teenager angst, pop culture references, relatable rages about school, gentle satire of the British culture, and an actual song and dance number on skates. A particularly entertaining moment is a band being interviewed live on TV, and the chaos that brings with it. 

Arabella Carter, Julia Grontman, Angelina Eba and Cleo Keeling come together to form 'the inner monologue'. A whispering, negative and judgemental stream of thoughts that haunt at individual characters is a wonderful way of visualising their thoughts. Often closely surrounding the actor, the inner monologues create a heightened sense of claustrophobia for the character and this translates really well on the stage. 

Each of the characters are thoughtfully individual and detailed, and their personalities are given the space to shine. This allows them to feel more layered and alive. The main cast do a brilliant job, with particular mention of O'Connor and SapkotaSapkota (Miss Mahmoud) has so perfectly nailed the mannerisms of a weary adult, striving to remain positive and inspiring, and still burdened by her own childhood secrets. It's hard to realise that Sapkota is still a young performer, for she delivers a rather mature performance. O'Connor (Sam) is a visionary, with undeniably strong stage presence and a gift for comedy, she is hilarious and bright and excels in her role. 

Scenes are set by colourful large cubes, that spell out locations and are used as furniture for the cast. The larger ensemble help in these scene transitions, and play many smaller roles. The play uses music frequently to both help set the time period, and for funny gags with well timed lyrics (Rhys Andrews). The lighting design (David Beaumont) also assists in this, but is most notable during the roller disco and during the time travel scene, wherein it creates a dazzling yet distorting effect on the audience. 

Back in the Day is an important play that both entertains and educates the audience with larger significant themes and beautiful character arcs.

Connections Festival runs at the National Theatre until Saturday 29th June. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4*)

Gifted tickets in return for an honest review


bottom of page