Southwark Playhouse, London – until 5 March 2022
Instructions For a Teenage Armageddon is a solo show performed expertly by Rosie Day who also wrote the script (and the book which it spawned). With direction by Georgie Staight, it’s an incredibly well written and performed social satire which broaches and discusses some incredibly emotional topics.
At 75 minutes long, it’s quite impressive how much Day is able to fit into this painful coming-of-age story and it really is an intense rollercoaster. The show is a series of monologues from a witty, introspective teenager who is trying to cope with the death of her sister as well as teen betrayal, manipulation, isolation and trauma. What is a very deeply dark show is made lighter by looking at it all through the main character’s eyes as she frames each section with gaining a new scout badge.
The entire show uses quick, clever prose and black humour which consistently walks the line of being too much, but always adds to the story and characterisation of the leading lady. What’s particularly striking is that you’re seeing real trauma of a child brought to life; and, aside from the more intense topics broached, many aspects are, unfortunately, hugely relatable for girls and women everywhere.
The idea of altering who you are to fit into societal norms and hiding pain behind humour is something many people grow up doing, and the pressures on girls to look and act a certain way never seems to change no matter how many developments are made. At the end of the day, Instructions For a Teenage Armageddon acts as a fable or a cautionary tale on why we need to support one another and have open and honest conversations about mental health amongst other things.
Instructions For a Teenage Armageddon is incredibly engaging throughout, with Rosie Day bringing every story to life brilliantly and giving an outstanding performance. The use of projections also adds another element and makes it feel more well-rounded. Isabella Pappas‘ on-screen performance is particularly memorable. This is an extremely timely, intense show that is expertly performed.