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‘Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon’- Charitha Chandran is very watchable and believable in demanding role… (review)

‘Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon’- Charitha Chandran is very watchable and believable in demanding role… (review)

Screen star shows agility in West End debut
… there are spoilers below…

By Suman Bhuchar

WRITTEN by actor-director Rosie Day, ‘Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon’ is a very successful play which has had three previous runs, became a self-help non-fiction book and is currently being developed as a television series.

Shocked by the statistic provided by Stem 4, a leading mental health charity which says 1 in 4 teenage girls self-harm, Day was dared to write this ‘One woman play’ because as she says in the programme, “I was frustrated that there didn’t seem to be any ‘One Girl’ plays. Teenage girls in theatre (and the roles I was cast in) were the daughter, the friend and the girlfriend.”

This is a play about teenage grief and trauma that is also making its West End debut – as well as that of the performer, Charithra Chandran (who is best known for her role in the global smash hit series, ‘Bridgerton’ and in the spy series, ‘Alex Rider’ before that).

In this iteration, directed by Georgie Straight, we meet the teen sassy protagonist who is not named until the end and her opening gambit is to inform us about “Triskaidekaphobia” – that is a fear of the Number 13, as her sister, Olivia died on the number 13 bus, caused ostensibly by
the ingredients of a Yorkshire pudding – but really of anorexia. The Pudding was made by our narrator to earn her Scouts’ or Guides’ badge.

Staged within a lilac coloured bedroom, designed by Jasmine Swan, we learn the family story about the impact of the death on the parents – who split up and develop new relationships (but never really seem to realise the impact of the death on her younger sibling).

Charitha Chandran in ‘Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon’
Pic: Danny Kaan

She meets her annoying step-sister, Lottie, a younger version of herself, sort of.

Video projections by Dan Light give an insight into the family life and with voice overs by actors, Shelley Conn as the mother and Philip Glenister as the dad. Meanwhile, no one at school knows how to deal with her grief.

Chandran is an energetic and convincing performer inviting us into her inner life to share the pain of her grief.

Intercut with this outpouring of trauma and grief, is the voice of scout leader, Susan (voiced by Maxine Peake) who provides instructions on tasks which earn you badges – but they seemed to be placed at odd moments in the play – and feel a bit unclear.

However, it is at scouts that she meets a new American girl, Ella (Isabella Pappas in video), who befriends her and introduces her to an older man and that is another cause of her trauma.

The play is a cry for help and Chandran is very watchable as the teenager letting us into her life – while the writing is witty and dark.

Pictures top: ©Danny Kaan/Nimax Theatres

ACV rating: **** (four out of five)


‘Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon’ by Rosie Day, Garrick Theatre, 2
Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0HH, has limited performances.
These are on Sundays  2.30pm and 6pm  April 7, 14, 21, & 28 April at
the same venue where ‘For Black Boys Who Have considered Suicide When
the Hue Gets Heavy’ which is also currently running on other days, until 1 June.

Box Office: 0330 333 4810
Running time: 80 minutes

Age: 12+, themes of eating disorders, death and themes of a sexual nature

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture