Phil demonstrates his cruel nature through his long, torturous silences that are intended to flame Leah’s paranoia and insecurity. During her long monologues, Leah asks him, “Are you thinking about me?” and “Do I disgust you?”, but Phil doesn’t answer or give her the reassurances she needs.
Such is Leah’s desire for Phil’s approval and attention, she threatens to kill herself in the hope of getting a reaction from him. Her pleas for him to speak become more and more desperate as they get deeper into the crime. She says his name twelve times at the end of Act Two, but he continues to ignore her.
Their relationship becomes torn apart after Phil orders the killing of Adam, ignoring Leah’s objection to the idea. In their last scene together, Leah is completely silent apart from her crying. In a shift of character, Phil actually tries to put his arm around her to comfort her, but it is too late and she “storms off”.
Phil’s mournful “Leah? Leah?” after she goes hints that he did care for her, and perhaps he even feels regret for the way he has treated her.
Phil recognises a fellow chimp-like personality in Cathy, and gives her the key tasks of stealing Adam’s clothes and also planting the DNA on Adam’s jumper. Cathy takes this one step further, finding a man who exactly fits the description in the false report.
Cathy and Phil work together on the murder of Adam. Without needing to be direct, Phil instructs Adam’s murder by saying “He can’t come back, Cathy.” Leah recognises the dominance of this new alliance, complaining to Phil “you sit there and you say nothing for years and suddenly now you’re chatting with Cathy.”
After being his obedient foot soldier, Cathy ends up taking over Phil’s leadership when he distances himself from the group. Richard says about the gang with Cathy at the helm, “You wouldn’t believe how things have got”, implying that Cathy has taken them to moral depths worse than when Phil was in charge.
The struggle for the leadership of the gang is established at the beginning of the play when John Tate feels threatened by Richard. This is following a comment by Lou that Richard is the only person other than John Tate whom she fears.
The two men nearly come to blows, when John Tate threatens to “hurt” him, and Richard responds by repeating, “You shouldn’t threaten me.” John Tate manages to reestablish his authority, but his insecurity about Richard exposes a weakness in his leadership.
When Richard attempts to resist Phil’s order that he work with Brian, Phil shows no such weakness. He ignores Richard’s protestations, and Richard – seeing a stronger leader – quickly falls into line.
At the end of the play, Richard takes Leah’s role in becoming desperate for Phil’s attention, pleading, “Come back, Phil. Phil?”
The table below evaluates the three leaders.
|Protection of the gang /10||Respect from the group /10||Use of fear and violence /10||Strategic ability /10||Ruthlessness /10|
|John Tate||8/10 – Tells Lou how he has always tried to “keep everyone together” and make “things better” for all the gang.||7/10 – Lou says the group respects John Tate for his achievements, but Phil easily asserts his dominance over him.||3/10 – He uses unconvincing threats of violence: “and if anyone says it I’m going to have to, you know, bite their face. Or something.”||2/10 – No plan after Adam’s murder. He defers to Phil: “Cathy says you’re clever. So. What do we do?”||4/10 – Enjoys striking fear into other students at school, but the guilt of Adam’s death is too much for him.|
|Phil||9/10 – Protects the group from punishment. Justifies Adam’s murder by saying, “What’s more important, one person or everyone?”||9/10 – The group marvels at his intricate schemes, demonstrated by the stage directions “They stare at him open-mouthed”.||8/10 – Terrifies Brian into obeying orders by threatening to kill him: “You’ll land on Adam’s corpse and you’ll rot together.”||10/10 – Shows cool-headed decisiveness when planning the cover-up and then the murder of Adam. The detail in his planning is startling.||8/10 – Very ruthless in the murder of Adam, but the guilt appears to take its toll on him by the end.|
|Cathy||7/10 – Protects the group with the planting of DNA and then Adam’s murder, but she seems more motivated by her personal thrill of violence and criminal intent.||5/10 – She rules by force at the end, though Richard suggests she is not a popular leader, with members commenting, “wasn’t it good when Phil was running the show?”||10/10 – Rises to the top through her increasing thirst for violence. Richard describes how she “cut a first-year’s finger off”.||7/10 – Takes the initiative in planting the DNA on a postman, but otherwise follows Phil’s instructions. Her leadership seems more characterised by senseless violence than strategy.||10/10 – Totally ruthless. She is excited by Adam’s death: “I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but in a way it is.” Shows no remorse for the postman’s arrest or the murder.|