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.

The Lyceum Youth Theatre; Summer on Stage


For the second year running I found myself at the opening night of Summer on Stage, an extraordinary theatrical venture that gives young people a truly great experience.  As it happens I was sat next to a lovely lady from Cairn Energy who was one of the founders of the whole thing and I have to say she was as blown away as I was.

The evening consisted of two productions, one for younger children (up to about 16 I’d say) and one for older youths.  The former was a charming tale called The Musicians in which a “shite” school orchestra arrived in Russia to perform as part of a cultural exchange, only to find that their instruments had been impounded at the airport because a spliff had been found in one of the cases.  The spliff had been secreted there because the doting flautists in the orchestra had hoped to use it medicinally to calm down the highly excitable conducter played excellently by Louis Plummer.

In the end the performance was mimed to Tchiakovsky’s 4th Symphony but inspired by the supportive (eventually) intervention of two hilarious stage hands/cleaners who stole the show (Keir Aitken and Samuel Adams).

The second performance, A Vampire Story, is a highly complex meeting of 19th Century vampirism with contemporary mental health issues and is quite stunning.  Both shows shared basically the same simple but highly effective set but in this one the set was used to meld two very different eras very effectively.  Although dark in content it is also hilarious in parts; it deals with the story of a teenage girl who clearly has become delusional and is creating a fantasy world of vampires as she seeks (with the help of her sister ) to escape the grasp of the authorities by constantly moving on.  On her journey she encounters another lost soul in the form of a home taught kid who is similarly trying to escape the attentions of his eccentric parents.  I can’t tell from the programme who played what parts but all of the principles were phenomenal and a special word has to go to the dotty teacher, Mint, played by Blair Grandison.  (The Home Economics teacher, Filet, who was played by Emma Mckenna was a class character part and I recognise the girl who played the part from previous Lyceum Youth performances – a real talent).

Director Steve Mann made a considerable impression on me with this show because the content was complex, the movement difficult and the pace very important.  All were delivered perfectly in a great technical set up so that what emerged was a highly professional production that replicated the sort of conditions that professional rep actors and technicians have to (and most certainly had to) work under;   short time scales to learn and perfect the the performances.  In this case A Vampire Story was created in under three weeks and The Musicians in under two.

As a kid, I’d have loved to have had this opportunity and so hats off to The Lyceum for making this happen and also to Cairn Energy for supporting it financially.