Edinburgh Fringe 2016
An examination of why it is Millennials seem to think no one’s really listening, Child’s Play punctuates the re-telling of a protest with explosive spoken word interrogations of what it means to be twenty-something, over-educated, and suspicious of almost everything. Child’s Play is for anyone who’s ever met, is, or is mystified by, a Millennial. Hopefully you’ll find it enlightening, maybe you’ll just have some Haribo. You don’t have to agree, but maybe you should listen.
Three young protestors clean up after a demonstration, uncertain whether, despite having occupied the building for several weeks, they’ve really done enough to change things. Were they only preaching to the choir or did they manage to influence anyone’s opinion? Why did people pay attention to protests back in the 1970s, but not today? Why is even the left wing media portraying them negatively? What do you do when you’ve been abandoned by Radio Four?
This thread alternates with spoken word sections, in which the performers talk about what it was like to grow up as a Millennial (roughly defined by the media as anyone born between the early 1980s and mid 1990s). They share their frustrations with what they’re told by older generations (emphasis on I never complained… despite the fact they’re saying this in order to complain about young people these days) and how they’re portrayed by the media (Millennials are the laziest, most narcissistic, worst generation that has ever existed, apparently). They give hilarious mock political speeches making fun of the meaningless, circular rhetoric favoured by politicians, such as ‘we’ll set up an independent inquiry inquiring into the independence of the inquirers’. And there is a heartfelt plea to be taken seriously – and have access to jobs that pay a living wage.
Child’s Play argues not that Millennials are better than other generations or that we have it worse, but that we are being unfairly dismissed. They suggest that Terror Management Theory (it is explained at the start of the show) might provide some answers: being aware of the inevitability of death makes people cling to various cultural values in an attempt to find meaning in life. Since Millennials are different, as the world has changed rapidly since we were born, we constitute a threat to the meaning they’ve created, and must be dismissed out of fear. Or something like that.
There are some minor flaws in the structure. Some elements could have been better integrated into the whole, such as the terror management theory, and it could do with a little less over-analysis of protest tactics (though said over-analysis is an accurate reflection of Millennial culture).
You might have guessed from the use of ‘we’ that I, too, am a member of that dreaded generation. As such, I can say that they’ve got it right in explaining the anger – and they do so without coming across as whiny. I cannot say whether Child’s Play will succeed in getting non-Millennials take notice and take us seriously, but then Kalon suggest their aim is only to open up a discussion: you don’t have to agree, you only have to listen. It’s an intelligently argued, entertaining, and often very funny production. Oh, and there are free sweets!