On Thursday, 25th February I made my way to [email protected] to attend the premiere of the Open Theatre Society’s latest production, Millennials, written and directed by Jonny Dowsett. Millennials is a one-act play that depicts the ups and downs of being part of the millennial generation. In a little over an hour, the audience is taken into the lives of members of our generation, from childhood to adulthood, and shares our perceptions on education, dating, friendship, and other life experiences. The play explores the lives of a group of millennials living in the western world, while also depicting the life of one living in Uganda. My expectations for this production were high, given the interesting story and that this was my first time watching a production at Leeds. I can say that this production exceeded my expectations, and proved to be an incredibly entertaining and thoughtful experience.
Make no mistake, this play is not a love letter to the millennial generation. Dowsett does a great job of depicted this generation from an unbiased point of view, showing off the strengths and weaknesses of people growing up in this day and age. We see the way our generation has been coddled from a young age, protected from all the scary things in the world. We recognize the struggles we currently face as students, where our success is based on a set curriculum that doesn’t necessarily cater to different types of intelligence. On the flip side, we see how our fear of being excluded and our obsession with technology intertwine, and our fleeting attention for world issues and our adoption of social media activism used as a way to help others, without actually having to get our hands dirty. The inclusion of the perspective of the millennial from Uganda is a unique way to counter the idea that members of our generation are all the same. This perspective reminds the audience that there are important differences that separate our experiences from others, which shouldn’t be marginalized.
A production that covers such wide range of topics could not be possible without a strong ensemble cast. Dami Adeyeye, Riccardo Bianco, Chloe Lovatt, Poppy Mathieson, Louisa Partridge, Leah Taylor, Isobel Van Hagen, and Denys Woolley make up an incredible cast. Each actor is captivating to watch and has an incredible stage presence. Like a true team, they give each other their moments in the spotlight, making their performances fit together seamlessly.
In his Director’s Note, Dowsett says “… we do not seek to provide solutions but rather question our perception, our treatment, and our education within the modern world.” Dowsett and his team’s production followed through on this statement. While watching the performance I often found myself reflecting on my own life and the various experiences I have had. The play makes you realize things about the way you’ve grown up and your current life that you had never considered. Millennials is a play that uses its relatability to share a deeper message: while we all may have different experiences; the way our generation has shaped the world is what links us together.
Words: Karishma Karia