Lyceum Youth Theatre. Summer on Stage


Summer on stage. Love it.

Oh how I love this concept and this theatre group.

OK.  As you know, I have a vested interest but Summer on Stage is a wonderful initiative that must create lifetime memories for the young people involved.

And once again two diametrically different shows spellbound its audience tonight.

CURTAINS UP

The older group (14 to 18 ish) performed Lorca’s Blood Wedding.

Now; this is no light undertaking.  It is not for the fainthearted.

This is a mammoth theatrical event and for a cast of youth to take it on relies on production and direction of utter commitment so John Glancy should take a bow for having the chutzpah to go for it.

It’s epic.

It’s supremely challenging and the cast pulled it off to great effect thanks in large part to the astonishing direction by Steve Mann.  Really his input cannot be underestimated.  Visually, it’s stunning, the movement enthralling and the chorus work electrifying.

The principal parts, and there are several, were all carried off with great skill.

Hanni Shinton (as the grieving mother) in particular has a stage presence beyond her years; but so too Isla Cowan as the Bride.

This really is a show that is dominated by the woman as they grieve, plot and react to situations running out of control as the menfolk brutalise one another for their shared love of the same women.

A special note of praise has to go to Rebecca McCoach as the Beggar Woman as her disturbingly dressed “thing” creeped us all out.  Hanging around the stage like a bad smell and representing death her presence was foreboding and distasteful.  Perfect.

Of course, taking three weeks to stage an epic does not come without its faults.  For me the end became pretty intense and I’d like the volume to have dropped a little but that’s a pretty churlish point about a show that must make each and every contributor immensely proud.

INTERVAL

Part two introduced us to the younger members of LYT (10 – 13) in a show called ‘It Snows’ which was redolent, to me, of Let The Right One In, the Swedish vampire movie that is essentially about young, and innocent, love.

This is a charming piece of theatre that was brought to life vigorously, hilariously and touchingly by director Christie O’carroll who was responsible for LYT’s recent production of Bassett which I was fortunate enough to see twice.  Christie is a treasure.  the lightness of touch of her direction of this superb script was a real triumph.

There are moments of laugh out loud comedy (particularly when the chorus play out stereotypical mother and father skats).  But it’s sad and touching too.

The show tackles the trials of growing up with the subplot of a poor, lonely little girl, ostracized from her community, maybe disabled, maybe abused watching on, detached from her upper floor room (it was this plot devise that reminded me so strongly of Let The Right One In), meanwhile Cameron and Caitlin attempt to “get it on” awkwardly, whilst each is the subject of peer abuse (especially Cameron).  Like two peas in a pod they gradually overcome their shyness and this leads to a delightful romance.

Again the chorus adds vibrant colour to the overall piece (a play written ostensibly for 7 parts but which effortlessly carries 30).

My only criticism would be that the dance routines slightly stopped the flow of the play and were slightly too long.

Other than that; Louis Plummer, Beth Moran and your 28 colleagues take a well deserved bow.

EPILOGUE

One last point.  Technically the shows were a triumph.  The set stunning, great lighting and we could hear every word.  No mean feat.

Bassett by The Lyceum Youth Theatre at The Traverse (until Saturday)


This is  Christie O’Carroll’s first, and stunningly, directed show for Lyceum youth and it is blessed with not only a cracking script by James Graham but also a gifted cast; in particular the quite mesmerising performance of Aaron Jones as the central and most troubled teen, Leo.

He’s not alone in deserving acting plaudits.  For a start it’s an excellent ensemble show and cleverly written to give all 14 young actors their moments to shine.  But inevitably there are stand outs.  For me they were the aforementioned Aaron Jones who, although slight of build, puts in a gargantuan performance.  In a smallish but rocket fuelled cameo (it’s much more than that really, but her spell in the limelight is a true short sharp shock) is Lucia D’Inverno as Lucy and throughout the laughs are provided by Hannah Joe Mackinlay as Zoe and on slightly more cerebral level by Tom Palmer as a quietly understated Amid.

The play delivers 40 minutes of changing mood and pace and centres on a school classroom in Wooton Bassett the day that a local hero is repatriated from Afghanistan in a wooden box.  The dead ‘hero’ is Charlie an ex pupil and idol (in different ways) to many of the classmates.  His death and the resulting ritual parade through Wooton Bassett are an incendiary device to the class who are inexplicably locked into their classroom by a particularly inept supply teacher just as the parade is about to happen.  This enrages Leo who gradually winds up his classmates as he himself becomes convulsed by the situation.

This ignites a classroom discussion which covers just about every subject a class of fifth formers would typically cover in their social life; sex, politics, slagging each other off, sex, toilet humour, being gay or not, sex, x box versus PS3, sex and swearing.  Oh, and sex.

It’s laugh out loud hilarious at times but gradually darkens as the mood swings from resentment at being excluded from the parade to bitter political ideological debate about the futility of war, nationalism (racism really), sexuality and religious belief.

It’s a tremendous script.  It’s expertly directed and it leaves the audience really quite shell shocked.  Although I have not yet seen Black Watch live I suspect it has that sort of visceral impact.

I strongly recommend that you see this.

The supporting performance consists of two one act dramas written by young writers on the Traverse’s Scribble initiative.  Tonight I saw “Is this it?” ( a thought provoking and very mature piece by Kiera McIntosh-Michaelis & Alex Porter-Smith) and Bang by Kelly Sinclair, a highly amusing insight into life in a detention class.  These pieces rotate on a performance by performance basis with four other, presumably very short, scripts.  Each are acted (with scripts) by members of Lyceum Youth and both were very enjoyable.