Play premiere tackles violence among teens

Janine Jarker and Kieren Spencer in Romeo Jones.
Janine Jarker and Kieren Spencer in Romeo Jones.

Pupils from six Central Bedfordshire schools were the first in the UK to see a hard-hitting new play about domestic abuse in teenage relationships.

Teenagers from Sandy Upper and Stratton Upper were among the schools attending to watch Romeo Jones.

The play, by Certain Curtain Theatre Company, gets its young audience thinking about the subtle warning signs of abuse behaviour and what a healthy relationship should look like.

It was brought to the six upper and secondary schools by the Relay team, which works with schools in Central Bedfordshire and Bedford to support children and young people affected by domestic abuse.

After they had watched the play, pupils had a chance to discuss the issues with the actors, supported by members of the Relay team and other local agencies, before taking part in follow-up sessions about healthy relationships in their PSHE lessons.

The 30-minute play focuses on teenager Juliet Smith, who finds herself trapped in an abusive relationship and seemingly unable to escape.

Writer and director John Woudberg said: “Romeo Jones is no ordinary love story. We wanted to explore notions of love and romance and how abusive tactics can be mistaken for intense feelings of caring or concern.

“This is to help young people understand and recognise the subtle warning signs of abusive behaviour and explore what healthy relationships should look like.”

Claire Moore, who plays Juliet’s mother, added: “Teenage girls are now the group most at risk of domestic violence. Research shows that non-violent tactics of control and abuse are often missed or thought of as romantic – drama is an excellent way of engaging young people with these difficult issues.

“Given that a quarter of all violent crime is domestic violence, investing in education and prevention has got to be a priority for society.”

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