It's no surprise that Dennis Kelly's cruel teaser of a play has become a GCSE set text: there's more than a touch of Lord of the Flies to this tale of adolescent pack pressure. A group of teen who think they've bullies a schoolmate to death embark on an elaborate cover-up. But how do you commit a perfect crime and conceal a body without cracking up in the process?
Paul Couch - 1st March 2012
Eight young people. One big secret. Just how far would you go to cover up the biggest, darkest transgression you know?
In Hull Truck's revisiting of Dennis Kelly's thriller, DNA, the domino effect is given full reign as one sin covers another and yet another to disguise that one - with chilling consequences.
Wayne Savage - 29th February 2012
AN interesting exploration of the fragility of truth, the power of lies and what happens when you put your trust in the wrong person; this is a compelling thriller cum modern-day morality tale.
Some panic stricken teenagers make a massive mistake; while their actions unites everybody else through grief the eight who know what really happened are slowly torn apart by the lies they've told.
Lyn Gardner - 15th February 2012
Adam is gone, presumed dead. He was last seen teetering on the grill of a deep, disused shaft, a group of bullying teenagers throwing stones at him. They may all be guilty as hell, but they have no intention of getting caught. They have their futures to consider. Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of Phil, an eccentric teenage criminal mastermind who may be a genius or a psychopath, and who comes up with the solution to their little problem that ensures it's the perfect crime.
Greg Clarke - 14th February 2012
A packed house, simple set, with eight superb young actors keeping the audience spell-bound with a fast moving tale of adolescent cruelty and guilt. This production should have a speed restriction on it!
Seemingly in a moment of madness the gang make the biggest mistake of their lives and the growing enormity of their crime cranks up the tension as they try to wriggle out of any blame.
Sheila Cornelius - 7th February 2012
First produced at the National Theatre in 2007, Dennis Kelly's ‘DNA' is a popular GCSE set text that kept a youthful audience enthralled last night at Kingston's Rose Theatre. The apron stage and a horse-shoe shaped auditorium including on-the-floor seating provided an ideal venue for this starkly-lit, simple staging of Hull Truck's production.
Dennis Kelly, best known as writer of the current hit, ‘Matilda the Musical', denies that his work is dark - bleak may be a better word - but ‘DNA's most obvious literary antecedent is William Golding's novel, ‘Lord of the Flies', an exam syllabus favourite. Unlike the privileged boarding school characters marooned without adult supervision on a desert island, here eight working-class protagonists, teenage students at the same urban school, react to a similar event - a bullying incident which spins out of control.
ASH Smyth - 7th February 2012
I have to confess it was about five minutes in to Dennis Kelly's DNA last night before I concluded, definitively, that I had seen it before. Four years ago, it was part of the Connections programme at the National Theatre - a scheme for generating short, double-billable, "youth"-friendly plays that, practically speaking, don't require the operating budget and elephant-handlers of a Veronese Aïda.
But Kelly's star is now in the ascendant - he is better known, principally, as Mr Matilda - and his quietly simmering ensemble piece is embarking on a national tour, in a production by Hull Truck. A "bit of a laugh" at a schoolmate's expense rapidly (d)evolves into the burning of feet with cigarette butts and the throwing of rocks at his head. When the inevitable happens, there is recrimination and finger-pointing among the half-dozen perpetrators, much panic about how this will ruin their lives, and a good deal of flapping about what, actually, to do - until Phil turns up.
Aleks Sierz - 7th February 2012
Before his huge West End success with the musical Matilda, Dennis Kelly's most popular play was DNA, first performed at the National Theatre's Connections youth theatre festival in 2007. Soon after, it became a GCSE core set text and is now studied by some 400,000 students every year.
The story is the tale of a perfect crime. A group of ordinary schoolkids bully one of their number and this leads to his death. They panic until Phil, who has a real talent for organisation, suggests a plan to shift the blame. Based on our awareness of how forensic science has improved, it involves a fiendishly clever use of DNA.