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Theatre / DNA

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DnA is a play written by Dennis Kelly, featuring a group of teenagers during the fallout of a prank gone disastrously wrong. A member of the group, Adam, dies after falling down a dangerous shaft that he was dared into walking over by his so-called friends. The leader of the group, Phil, comes up with a plan to cover up their involvement. Things seem to be working out just fine, until unexpected revelations and events send things spiralling out of control once again. Just how far are the teens prepared to go in order to maintain their cover-up?


If you're looking for the double helix which codes for life, see DNA.

DnA provides examples of:

  • Always a Bigger Fish: John Tate's introduction shows him bullying his way into a position of power among the group. Richard's entrance a few minutes later disrupts John's efforts, but it's Phil who establishes himself as the one in charge when he arrives on the scene.
  • Arc Words: The play's title. First brought up in relation to the difference between bonobos and chimpanzees, but becomes much more significant a few scenes later, when the police discover DNA evidence connecting a random man to Adam's made-up kidnapping.
  • Attention Whore: Cathy. While everyone else is concerned about the fat postman who'll go to prison because of their false crime, she only cares about the camera crew she saw at the police station, and whether or not she should give an interview.
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  • Ax-Crazy: Cathy, again.
  • The Bully: John Tate gives off this vibe, despite only appearing in one scene.
  • Butt-Monkey: Brian. Him being perpetually trapped in this trope is part of what leads to his eventual breakdown.
    • Adam was one as well, before his unfortunate demise.
  • Character Tics: Phil is constantly eating sugary snacks or drinking coke. When he stops, the audience knows something is wrong.
  • Downer Ending: Adam is dead (for real, this time). The fat postman is facing life in prison. Brian is insane with guilt, as is John Tate, possibly. Cathy is more psychotic than ever. Mark and Jan have taken up shoplifting. Danny's given up on his dream of being a dentist. Leah's disappeared, having likely moved to another school, and Phil is distraught without her. Furthermore, the group has fallen apart without Phil to hold things together. In short, none of the characters end up in a better situation than they were at the play's beginning.
  • Extreme Doormat: Brian.
    • Leah, too, although she gets better by the play's end.
  • Foreshadowing: Leah's monologue about chimps, while seemingly irrelevant at the time, talks about how an injured chimp can be cast out or even killed by those in its group. Which is exactly what happens to Adam, once it's discovered that he's still alive.
  • Genius Sweet Tooth: Phil. Criminal mastermind and rather fond of waffles.
  • Heel Realisation: Phil, although it takes Leah's departure to instigate it.
  • Heroic Mime: Subverted with Phil, who seems to be this trope in most of his scenes with Leah. However, he can speak, but only when he feels he has to.
  • Jerkass: Most of the characters, with the exception of Leah, Brian, Adam and possibly Danny.
  • Karma Houdini: The whole group, except possibly Phil, but especially Cathy.
  • Laughing Mad: Brian, post-breakdown.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Phil.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: A possible interpretation of Phil's behaviour in the final scene.
  • Posthumous Character: Adam, who the audience learns bits and pieces about after his death kicks off the events of the play. Subverted, as it turns out he survived the fall.
  • Sanity Slippage: Brian, after he's forced to identify an innocent man as the person who "kidnapped" Adam. Not that he was entirely stable to begin with...
  • Spanner in the Works: Phil's plan is disrupted when Cathy manipulates the fake evidence in order to implicate a fat postman with bad teeth. And it's disrupted again when Adam turns up, alive.
  • The Quiet One: Phil.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Leah's opinion of Phil. Although, by the end of the play, she comes to see just how dangerous he can really be, and she leaves him.
  • Wham Episode: Act 3. Adam is alive, albeit suffering from serious brain damage, and has been hiding in a ditch for several weeks. As Adam's survival being revealed to the public now will ruin everything the group has strived for, Phil and Cathy trick the now mentally-unstable Brian into killing Adam. Leah is unable to convince Phil to stop. She finally realises what a monster he really is, and leaves.

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