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Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon | Garrick Theatre

Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon is the debut play by Rosie Day and is directed by Georgie Staight. With previous limited runs at off West End theatres, the play finally makes it West End debut with Bridgerton star Charithra Chandran starring as the lead. Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon is THE play that speaks to the teenager within each of us, reminding us to look out for ourselves, love deeply and to hold on.

The play follows an unnamed protagonist, portrayed by Chandran, as she deals with a monumental loss that forever alters her life and shifts her world. Combined with the complexities of being a misunderstood teenager, the dangers of intense emotions, lack of guidance, a trying time for the family and a rudderless existence, she stumbles through life with biting and honest commentary that both startle and charm the audience. The play touches upon serious themes such as grief, sexual assault and eating disorders and handles these themes with respect. 

Chandran delivers an excellent performance, utterly captivating the audience. Perfectly capturing the teenager's voice, Chandran manages to connect with the audience and helps makes everyone feel seen. With an impressively perfect script from Rosie Day, that will find its home in the audience's heart, Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon is a brilliant debut play for Chandran.

Performed as a one woman show, (or one girl as Day states), Chandran's performance will wreck you, maintaining a chokehold through some of the show's darker and more sombre themes, and have you laughing aloud or gasping with her excellent comedic timing. With a natural flair for dark humour, Chandran navigates the script with ease and is a charismatic lead, despite the occasional exaggerated and dramatic actions. 

Often woven into the script as an offhand comment, yet with acutely honesty and wisdom, are comments made in disdain when let down by the system. With universal truths and lessons for everyone regardless of age, the show leaves a worthy impact.

The play is contained within, quite literally, a bedroom set. With a tint of a muted pink, the room becomes a blank canvas, allowing itself to represent any age (Jasmine Swan), Two lamps add a little warmth, but ultimately it is the distinctive and deliberate lighting design (Rory Beaton) that sets the tone. With sharp squares of lighting entrapping Chandran, pulsating LEDs and colourful party spotlights, the lighting helps transforms and exaggerates the already consuming emotions, flooding the senses. Sound design (Sam Glossop) is a subtle but a fun addition, with the loud snippets of Britney Spears and Taylor Swift, or the hilarious one liners as voice overs from scout leader Susan (Maxine Peake) during scene transitions. 

Dan Light has created magic with the video design, using the three walls to create stunning pieces of visual art. Light brings aesthetically pleasing and powerful moments, a beautifully designed rain downpour comes to mind here, as well as artistic and creative storytelling though video projections as memories. With an indie filmmaking style, the moments of Polaroid memories and interactions with other characters, Mum, Dad and Ella (Shelley Conn, Philip Glenister and Isabella Pappas) feel more intimate and alive. 

The play closes with a wonderful circle of life moment. Acknowledging and addressing the difficulties of the teenage years and the transition into adulthood, she provides a hopeful, powerful and helpful literal list to help navigate through the dark times. Lessons and wise words that ring true to one and all, and make for a rather cheeky yet magnificent ending.

Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon is a beautiful love letter to young people, especially teenage girls, that finally allows their voice to be heard and understood. The show not only becomes a safe space for young people, but a brave space, allowing them to get in touch with their darkest confessions and deepest inhibitions and bare it to an understanding audience. Rosie Day, Georgie Staight and Charithra Chandran have created a glorious piece. 

Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon is currently playing at the Garrick theatre until the 28th of April (only on Sundays). For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Danny Kaan


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