We are the Best at Live Theatre
We are the Best opens with Stacy Ghent’s hilariously realistic interpretation of a secondary school teacher hosting a talent show practice, and the way she addressed the crowd as “year 8” was just one of many instances I was transported back to the cusp of adolescence. We are introduced to the characters as the practice commences: Bruce Khan’s bumbling, mop-headed Youth Leader who looked straight out of the local youth club I ate ice pops at every Wednesday; Elena Porter’s Hedwig, the prim, proper but painfully shy Christian girl with immaculate vocals and our main characters, Bobo (Bethany Morris) and Klara (Bridget Marumo), two climate conscious, burgeoning punks, whose political theatre performance doesn’t go down too well.
Set in Stockholm 1982 (in some alternative universe where the Swedish are Geordies), We are the Best is the story of teenage outcasts who, after having a hard time at home and becoming disconcerted with the world around them, turn to the power of music, friendship and a new hairstyle for consolation. They even write their own song, entitled ‘Sports are Shit’ - something like what my younger, emo self would’ve penned whilst hiding in the loo during PE. There’s all the twists and turns that everyone will undoubtedly recognise from their 13th year; identities are forged and questioned, parenting is challenged - the scenes between Bobo and her mam, played by Anna Bolton, were brimming with raw and relatable emotions - boys get in the way and friendships are fractured.
The centre of We are the Best, though, is euphoric rebellion; it's impossible not to leave the theatre smiling as the three teenagers find where they belong in each other. With all the harmful discourse currently surrounding the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ education in schools, it was so heartwarming to see a queer relationship between two young people blossom on the stage. Like its characters, We are the Best sticks two fingers up at a restrictive society. Rebecca Glendenning has done a fantastic job of polishing up Lukas Moodysson’s cult film of the same name with her unique, witty writing.