As part of TakeOver Festival 2017 at York Theatre Royal, young artists put on an original production named Amphibious, a creative piece centred around six young interns all battling for a job at a prestigious wall company. The play’s exploration of walls is interesting and fitting in the current political climate’s obsession with borders. It presents the audience with the idea that barriers should be broken down, if a person is brave enough to do so, yet it does so on a very personal level that could be applied to society more generally.
Some of the characters talked about literal walls. For instance, one described how his friend’s bedroom wall had been built directly over the area he had once sat in a former football stadium. This prompted him to reflect on the changes that had occurred over time since that moment. In contrast, another character spoke about a list of goals she had wanted to achieve by age twenty, including altering her appearance, in the hope that the existing picture of herself on her wall would be replaced with an improved image. The disappointment of being unsuccessful in this endeavour and the accompanying fear of remaining passive permeates throughout the play; the characters are all actively striving to make changes within their lives and break down any blockades that stand in their way.
This is further emphasised through a reflection upon metaphorical walls. One character recalled his lack of career progression and the corresponding glass wall that he felt existed within his life, in which he could see his aspirations on the other side, yet they were ultimately unattainable. Interestingly, the character muses that an even scarier thought than not being able to achieve his dreams would be if he did actually reach them, as maybe he would then feel a lack of purpose. Perhaps one of my favourite lines in the play, ‘the grass is always greener over the wall’, seems to perfectly embody the anxieties that the characters face surrounding pressure to be successful and fulfil their potential, whilst feeling as though they are in competition with one another.
Crucially, the play depicts the way in which many young people share the frantic feeling that they are running out of time to make important life choices. Although I knew the play was going to discuss the notion of walls within our society, I certainly was not expecting it to pose questions about life after university and the scary idea of trying to ‘make it’. The section which exaggerated and made light of the peculiar questions that can be asked at interviews especially resonated with me and indeed made myself and the rest of the audience laugh aloud. It was a fitting piece for a third-year student considering post-graduation options to watch. Thus, an integral part of Amphibious’ charm was the fact that it was able to address worries that many young people have about their future, whilst still being incredibly funny.