The production could be described in many ways. It is a medieval tale with a "making-of" included, a story about love and the meaning of life, a mix between contemporary and ancient/fantasy worlds. But above all, it is a play acted by teenagers. The 14-to-16-year-olds act out their private conversations as if the stage - and the public - were simply inexistent. They talk about things they care about, worry about, love (?). And then, they represent a medieval tale. In a fairly unconvincing and uninteresting way. So what is it that makes the show shocking to some, appealing to most? When not acting the story, the teens are "themselves". With all the consequences. They swear more than a drunk butcher, they talk dirty to each other, occasionally becoming incredibly cruel, some of them even actually spanking others, smoking, or, in one boy's case, undressing and playing with the genitals in front of the public. Oh, and sucking on it. For the acrobatic trick. And the public's guilty feeling of joy.
I tried talking to the actors, the director, several other spectators. I wanted to know what they felt. They thought it was real. And funny. The actors felt just fine about all this, stating that this is who they are and they were not forced to do anything, on the contrary, they were the ones suggesting, and several things they suggested were rejected. The boys who smoked had been smoking since they were 12, the boy who made the exhibitionist trick insisted on doing that and had a long conversation with everyone about what he was going to do.
And of course, my favorite argument: this is who they are. We can't be so politically correct as to censor it. It would be hypocrisy. And come on, this is no big deal really. There have been much worse things happening on stage in contemporary theater, also to teenagers.
Then why is it bothering me? Maybe because I have a few friends who started smoking on stage, and never quit. Or because I remember myself at 14, 15, 16, and the enthusiasm with which I undertook the most silly and unwise things. I suppose I was in the luxurious situation of not being tempted to try them out on stage. Why? Maybe, because there is a difference between what's happening with or without a witness. And because I'm not sure of how far it goes, but I'm pretty sure the young people I spoke to are so even less. Or maybe because I'm just a boring moralist, who can't deal with true avant-garde when he sees it.