The first night of Foolish Young Man was one of the most immediate and edgy theatre performances I have ever seen. The group of talented young actors brought together by Grassmarket created a sense of raw realism so convincing that you had to remind yourself at times that this was a rehearsed performance. It felt more like eavesdropping on the real lives of young people living at or near the margins and struggling to cope with some really difficult issues. The emotional response the performance evoked in the audience was real and spontaneous. People came out stunned, realizing they had witnessed something remarkable.
Ben Emmerson, QC
“Anybody moving around London for the first time is amazed by its complexity. One of the first things you learn is to stop being amazed, because the amazement will swamp you. You get used to it, so they say. It may be that the city gets used to you, even. But every time you stop and think, you witness friction, contradiction, accommodation, tolerance, good fortune and unfairness all washing up against each other. There are moments, both big and small, when you can feel the fabric of the city tearing, extraordinary hurt and pain. Jeremy Weller’s wonderful talent is to compress the whole human kaleidoscope into 87 minutes. In The Foolish Young Man Jeremy drains you, fills you up and drains you again. Jeremy, who was trained as a visual artist, makes us see. The actors in The Foolish Young Man make you see what you learned to ignore”.
Richard Wentworth, Artist
Imagine… followed the process by which Jeremy Weller cooks up drama about the dispossessed and the dysfunctional, in this case a play about troubled teenagers that was scheduled for the reopening of London’s Roundhouse. Weller’s ethos is that, by turning their pain into a play, his amateur actors could find a way to a better life. At first, this struck you as counter-intuitive, self-dramatisation and an addiction to ferocious monologue being part of the problem. But Weller was wise to the irony that acting might rescue you from a life of false performance, and his patience did show results. The film didn’t lay bare the artistic quality of the finished product, but it brought home how novel and thrilling approbation was to those involved, an experience that seemed to have steadied them.“It’s like a drug – I want more of it,” said one teenager coming off stage, his face shining with the high of the curtain call. Given what he’d been prepared to do for drugs before this was a tiny bit unnerving, but then getting addicted to something you can only buy with sustained hard work was probably the point.
Thomas Sutcliffe,The Independent – Newspaper 01/11/2006