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This is the stuff of young adult novels.
Dayboy, by emerging Dunedin playwright Harrison Kennedy, is set in a boys’ school where four of the five characters are senior boarders.
The fifth is day boy Jack, whose efforts to be accepted are hampered by his lack of confidence and the fact that there’s something about his family that he doesn’t want anyone to know about.
The scene is set by a stage almost bare except for a few beer crates and a rugby jersey on the rear wall.
Themes include sexuality, homophobia, religion, anger, violence, self-esteem, bullying, brotherhood, developing maturity and, inescapably, rugby.
This is a heavy load for a one hour play, and streamlining and a clearer trajectory would improve the script.
Intimate moments are enhanced by hand-held lamps with which the boys illuminate their own faces, emphasising the fragilities behind often deliberately tough exteriors.
The production’s action is one of its strong points.
From start to finish there are brawls, fights, displays of youthful exuberance, and, of course, rugby.
All of this, on and around a small, elevated stage, requires timing, speed, agility and (especially where a rugby ball is tossed from one player to another) considerable precision, and it is expertly done.
Dayboy is a worthwhile effort and it’s good to see it on the stage at last.
It began as a university Lunchtime Theatre play some years ago. Further development put it on last year’s Fringe programme, but like other 2020 offerings it became a casualty of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The production is R13 rated, and language and violence may make it unsuitable for some people over that age.