© 2019 by The New Current. 

Do you remember what it was like for you at High School, that sinking feeling you’d get as you made your way to school? How there always seemed to be that one bully who knew too much about everyone and made sure they’d do everything they could to make your life hell. It is impossible to think of a ‘simpler’ time of bullying but with the increase of mobile phones and social media profiles bullies have now become even more dangerous and vindictive as they utilise these tools to do the most damage.

We all have one story or another of the abuse and cruelty that we endured at High School but some of us just had to let it continue till we could break free and leave it all behind us. But there is an alternative to having to suffer this abuse alone and playwright David Jackson's new play, A Little Respect, challenges the notation of bullying, of what it means to be a victim, and how by coming together and sharing ones experiences you can take the bullies power away.

During a school assembly Charley, Laurel Waghorn, with the brief aid of Will, Mark Tims, starts to present a new student peer counselling service which she is looking for volunteers. The only students to sign up to the scheme are Daniel, Elliot Martin, Dawn, Lucy Alexander, Jordan, Declan Mason. Each is perceived as outsiders in their school and at one point or other been bullied by Ali, Harvey Cole

This isn’t an easy task that Charley has set herself and it takes some time to truly convince the others that this is going to be a worthwhile project. After a great deal of self-reflection and some brutal home truths, the five students come together and, realising the benefit of what they’re doing, decide to make a stand that will forever change their lives.

One of the most touching scenes comes between Ali and Jordan in Dawn’s Pool House. At times one could hear a pin drop as Ali slowly begins to open up to Jordan and his fear, confusion and panic that he is now feeling are counted by Jordan’s laid-back and forthright honesty. This brilliant use of tension is again used later on towards the end of the play between all of the characters - the speed to which the final scenes are brought together is a remarkable achievement without a single step misplaced.

"Impossible to see how hate like this can have any positive outcomes."

Cole puts in a stunning performance as Ali and he skillfully manipulates his way through his emotions allowing small pangs of his possible redemption to shine through and take hold of the audience. Alexander and Mason offer the piece some much needed lighthearted comedic moments whilst presenting two very positively crafted characters. Tims and Martin maintain the emotional richness in Jackson text and Waghorn is the personification of positivity as she plays a character that is unrelenting in her convictions. 

There is a risk that A Little Respect could have just been one of those plays about bullying that is never really able to connect with its audience, instead, it tries to give a one-dimensional narrative that finishes when the company take their bow. Yet Jackson allows his audience to become privy to six complicated and hurting characters that this company of young actors have reached deep within themselves the bring a true realism to their characters with genuine authenticity.

It is rare to have a production that deals with drug abuse, sexuality, abandonment, and depression do so in such a salient way. It is easy to play on stereotypes rather than try to play on truths but Jackson manages to ensure that his text hasn't pandered to these stereotypes and instead offers a keen insight into a modern youth experience.
 

A Little Respect is a game changer in how Youth Theatre in the UK can be done. Hungry Wolf has made a decision to treat their young company as mature adults which has in turn given them the tools they needed to excel in a show that is as hard and challenging as it is filled with some of the best one-liners you’re going to hear. The delicate nature of Jackson text is brought to life with a remarkable easy by the company who clearly show a deep understanding of the place their playwright and director has come from. 

This connection they have found with their play is the type of connection the audience found and the deafening applause was joined by an instant standing ovation (rare in UK theatre and rarer still on the fringe). A Little Respect is a play you see that not only touches you deeply but helps you find the strength you need to confront your demons…You’re not going to forget this play in a hurry.