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Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon at Southwark Playhouse

Sometimes my interest in a show comes about because I wonder what exactly it is going to be able to say to me as an individual. As a 50 something single man with no children and has never lost a sibling, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would be able to relate to a show described as “after her sister’s untimely death by a Yorkshire Pudding, a wayward teenage girl joins a scout group to help her navigate the kicks and punches of adolescence with varying degrees of success.”? I mean I don’t even like Yorkshire Pudding that much. So, intrigued beyond measure, I trotted along to the Southwark Playhouse for Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon written and performed by Rosie Day.

 Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon. Photo Mark Senior.
Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon. Photo Mark Senior.

The show, which is a sort of monologue, augmented by video, tells the story of Eileen’s life pretty much from the death of her sister through to the present day.  Faced with the loss of her sibling and parents who were too wrapped up in themselves to look after their living child, Eileen goes off the rails and joins the Scouts. Not exactly the sort of teenage rebellion you might be expecting but in reality, the Scouts are a sort of cover for how Eileen is really feeling. It’s a place where she can make friends and be herself without everything thinking, or consciously avoiding the subject of, her dead sister. It is here, as her parents split and find new families where Elaine doesn’t really fit that she makes a new BFF, and here she starts to experience a more adult world – one she is not necessarily prepared for. As her knowledge of the real world outside childhood grows, Elaine does things she shouldn’t, makes mistakes and encounters the harsh reality of an uncaring and unsympathetic planet.

Right off the bat, I have to say I absolutely loved Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon. The writing is truly fantastic, and Rosie’s delivery is first-rate. As I followed the story of Eileen, there was not a single moment where my mind wandered, or my attention drifted. This was storytelling at its finest. The narrative was beautifully crafted and delivered. The creative team – Director Georgie Staight, Set Designer Cara Evans, Lighting Designer Holly Ellis, Sound Designer Sam Glossop, and Video Designer Dan light – add the cherry to the cake to make Eileen’s story cohesive, entertaining, horrifying in places and utterly relatable. I may be an old SINK (single income no kids) bloke, but I found so many parts of the story I could identify with and was emotionally drawn into so much of the story.

I especially loved the definition of the word ‘fine’. Afterwards, while waiting for the bus, I started thinking about how often I used that word in answer to questions of how I was or how things were going.  It really is the most overused word in my vocabulary and thanks Rosie for making me aware of that.

With a runtime of 75 minutes, Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon is the perfect length, and honestly, I can’t think of anything that didn’t work for me.  Using the scouting episodes – descriptions of the badges and how to get them – to act as the breaks between, for want of a better word, scenes was a neat touch that provided a change in atmosphere and emotion whilst not detracting from the story being told.  By the end, whilst you know it’s never going to be plain sailing for Elaine, I did leave the theatre hoping and praying that I had seen the merest glimpse of a better world to come for her.

5 Star Rating

Review by Terry Eastham

I think you can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to see in you.
Miss-trusted. Miss-treated. Miss you.
Welcome to a misspent youth.

After her sisters untimely death by a Yorkshire Pudding, a wayward teenage girl joins a scout group to help her navigate the kicks and punches of adolescence with varying degrees of success.

Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon is a rollercoaster ride through youth. Whether you are a young person, know a young person, or simply were a young person once – it’s time to rip up the rule book and reconnect with your younger self.

Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon returns to London after a sell-out run at the Old Red Lion Theatre in 2020.

Recommended for ages 13+.

Creative Team
Director Georgie Staight
Set & Costume Designer Cara Evans
Lighting Designer Holly Ellis
Video Designer Dan Light
Sound Designer Sam Glossop
Stage Manager Summer Keeling
Production Manager Brains
Producers Katy Galloway and Zoe Weldon
Cast: Rosie Day

Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon at the Southwark Playhouse – the Little
9 February – 5 March 2022
Performances: Monday- Saturday 8pm. Press Night 10 February at 8pm. Matinee’s Tuesday and Saturday at 3.30pm
Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD

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