My Review of Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon

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Megan Kempton
April 12, 2024

Charithra Chandran Takes No Prisoners in Rosie Day’s Epic of Girlhood

There are few groups as underestimated as the teenage girl, and in Rosie Day’s Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon, she makes a righteous coup for center stage.

Teenage Armageddon, written and performed by writer and teen mental health advocate Rosie Day, follows Bridgerton actress Charithra Chandran as she portrays the fiery Eileen’s life from ages fourteen to seventeen. Chandran opens the play by dryly explaining her sister’s death by Yorkshire pudding (which Eileen must add, was the perfect Yorkshire pudding and even earned her a scouts’ badge!) The audience was stunned when it was revealed that the pudding was not what killed Eileen’s sister, but the anorexia she had been battling.

We have all seen the media portray the grief of a parent losing a child, but Teenage Armageddon asks: ‘What about the little sister?’ What follows is an exploration of teenage grief, triumph, love, anger, and acceptance. 

Chandran shines in all of her angsty glory as she masterfully narrates us through this story. At times, she will play two characters at once, having a conversation between Eileen and another character. Chandran does this with such finesse that one will almost certainly forget that they are watching a one woman (or in the words of Rosie Day, one girl) play at times. Even when Eileen makes dark jokes or upsetting decisions, Chandran’s portrayal ensures that throughout Eileen’s mistakes, we always care and root for her triumph.

From the moment you enter The Garrick Theatre, you are graced with a playlist straight off of your local seventeen-year-old’s Spotify (including Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, and Avril Lavigne). The set is a light purple monochromatic recreation of a teen's bedroom, serving as a blank yet recognizable canvas for adolescence. 

Teenage Armageddon is not concerned with fitting into the mold of teenage representation but rather offers a more universal depiction of teenhood that transcends generations. While Eileen has a Stanley Cup and laments her adoration for Taylor Swift, she also dances to Britney Spears’ Toxic, Dexys Midnight Runners’ Come On Eileen, and bears an outfit that would be right at home in 2014’s Tumblr scene. There is little to no mention of social media, and phone use is limited to calling and texting friends sparingly. By doing this, Rosie Day overcomes generational barriers by focusing on what has afflicted teenage girls in all generations, rather than the unique challenges faced by today's teens.

Unfortunately, the dialogue does end up feeling a bit stilted in places when Eileen speaks directly to the video cast (Shelley Conn, Phillip Glenister, and Isabella Pappas). Videos of friends and family in conversation are often included in the eclectic projection work which often supplements Chandran’s storytelling. These interactions feel disconnected and are sometimes jarring. 

When Teenage Armageddon tackles hard subjects, it does so in a sensitive yet appropriately naive way. The play examines heavy themes such as eating disorders, self-harm, and sexual assault. These topics are handled with extreme care but still allow its perspective to be juvenile. Armageddon dares to examine the darker side of adolescence through the eyes of someone living it, and by doing so never feels preachy or heavy-handed.

Armageddon will undoubtedly be the most impactful for those who are either a teenage girl or have been a teenage girl. It is a theatrical experience made by them, for them, which is a rare gem in the current theatrical landscape of sanitized teenagers written for commercial appeal (ex: Mean Girls, Heathers). Overall, this play will appeal to those willing to take the journey to reflect on what the time spent being young and growing meant, even if it is a difficult ride.

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Megan Kempton

My name is Megan Kempton and I am a junior at American University studying Musical Theatre and Communication studies. I'm going to London to study and to embark on an internship. In my free time I like writing, reading, puzzles, and making music!

2024 Spring
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