Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon at the Garrick Theatre REVIEW: Charithra Chandran makes a moving stage debut

Sunday 17 March 2024

Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon
Garrick Theatre

In a transfer from the Southwark Playhouse to to the Garrick Theatre, Instructions For a Teenage Armageddon sees Charithra Chandran making her stage debut after her notable appearance on screen in Bridgerton.

Written by Rosie Day (who previously starred as Girl), Teenage Armageddon revolves around a witty, introspective teenager coping with the loss of her sister amidst the tumult of teenage betrayal, manipulation, and trauma. Despite the dark undertones, Day lightens the mood by framing each section with the protagonist's quest for new scout badges. The story is moving, if at times predictable and is a good way of supporting teens and putting them at the forefront of a story.

In this 75-minute journey directed by Georgie Staight, Chandran deftly navigates through a poignant social satire, tackling a myriad of emotional themes. Her characterisation is good, breathing life into a variety of personas throughout the performance. While her comedic and emotional timing may not always deliver the biggest punch, Chandran's portrayal remains commendable, particularly given the emotional depths demanded by the role; and it's highly impressive that her first foray into theatre is with a one-girl-show.

Having seen the show in its previous iteration I knew what to expect but this version certainly felt different. Mainly in terms of staging, the show has moved away from the campfire setting as it's main framework and instead the action physically takes place in a muted bedroom which doubles as all the other locations. Video projections by Dan Light add depth and interest, especially with the extra on screen characters played by Shelley Conn (Mum), Philip Glenister (Dad) and Isabella Pappas (Ella). At times the show does feel a little too staged and as though its lost some of the real childishness which was so charming during its last run, however it retains it's heart and sincerity which really make it sparkle.

The show is adorned with quick, clever prose and such dark humour, you never quite feel certain you should be laughing as loudly as you are. The play is a poignant exploration of real childhood trauma, with relatable themes that will certainly resonate with audiences, particularly girls and women navigating societal pressures and concealing pain behind humour.

Instructions For a Teenage Armageddon serves as a cautionary tale, urging for open conversations about mental health and the importance of supporting one another. Chandran's performance is really admirable and the show's West End transfer is a testament to Rosie Day's brilliant writing.

Reviewed on Sunday 17th March 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Danny Kaan

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}