DNA by Dennis Kelly: Routes to RevisionBy Daisy Bowie-Sell. Playwright Dennis Kelly is on a high. His plays, though littered with humour, often cover the murky edges of society, violence and the conflict between right and wrong. In his play Osama the Hero, a young boy chooses Osama bin Laden as his personal hero for a school project and as a result is hunted down and tortured by his neighbours. In Taking Care of Baby Kelly wrote a fictional verbatim play about a woman who is convicted of infanticide. This is certainly the case in his play DNA, which was first staged in at the National Theatre and is about to go on national tour for the first time. It is about a group of year-olds who accidentally kill one of their classmates.
Dennis Kelly: 'I thought that drinking was all I had to offer'
What are your favourite memories of bringing it to the stage? I mainly remember it being a laugh. But it was a lovely time and a great learning curve to go on. The hardest thing was working out the structure. Roald Dahl is a master of his craft, but his craft is books. And a book is very different to a play or musical.
This was strange for two reasons: the first was that musicals generally start with the director or composer, not the person who's going to write the script, which can often be seen as an afterthought. Jeanie had the notion that by starting with a playwright you would concentrate on getting the story right and the words wouldn't end up as stuff simply gluing songs together. The second reason was that I had absolutely no knowledge of musicals whatsoever. Far from believing this was a problem, I think it was actually what she was after. I remember the politely raised eyebrows when I told people I was doing a musical, often followed by a change of the subject, or even outright laughter.