Byteback's heartrending performance ahead of Edinburgh Fringe Festival

A powerful new play starring a group of young actors offered a heartbreaking look at violence and extremism.

Alex Abrahams, Liam Cavanagh and Lewis Pugh giving powerful performances in Kill the Boy. (s)
Alex Abrahams, Liam Cavanagh and Lewis Pugh giving powerful performances in Kill the Boy. (s)

Byteback Theatre’s Kill the Boy was previewed at Burnley Youth Theatre last Friday before it heads off to Edinburgh Fringe Festival next week.

It pieces together several factors which transform a British teenager known as “Boy” into a terrorist.

Boy has been raised in a military family with a father who works as a soldier.

When his dad is killed in action, Boy can no longer see the glory in fighting for one’s country. Struggling to deal with his grief, he turns away from his family.

He finds comfort from a new friend with extreme views - and plunges into a dark and deadly mind-set.

This was certainly a brave piece: terrorism is a difficult topic and few tales attempt to examine an individual’s journey towards extremism in such depth.But these storytellers pulled it off with terrific skill.

The play was superbly paced and the development of Boy was believable. The dialogue was natural and the tale was provocative without an ounce of melodrama.

Kudos to director Jessica Milne and her creative team.

In fact the drama, comedy and shock factor were all well placed to create a wonderfully balanced tale which was bold and emotional but also sensitive and insightful.

The play’s success was also down to the fine acting of the cast. I’ve seen many of these actors in various shows over the last couple of years and it was lovely to see how they have blossomed.

Liam Cavanagh was fantastic as Boy. His performance was mature and confident and he brilliantly handled his character’s complexities.

Lewis Pugh has a sharp eye for character and painted a striking picture of Joff, a manipulative and charismatic protester with extreme views.

Each supporting actor - Mollie Moorby, Matthew Barnett, Henry Blackburn, Alex Abrahams, Kayley Lonsdale, Anna Martin, Eli Berry-Martland and Samina Syed - deserves a wealth of credit for creating a challenging play with few props and little space.

The spotlight fell solely on their skills but nothing could stop them from shining.

Kill the Boy deserves its place among the high quality shows which make up the Fringe Festival.