Friday, September 20, 2013

Review - Our Day Out - People's Theatre

Our Day Out
People's Theatre
17th Sept 2013
The People's Theatre kicked off the new season this week with an adaptation of Willy Russell's "Our Day Out". Performed by the youth theatre under the direction of Mark Buckley, this adaptation has been transferred from 70s Liverpool to 80s Newcastle. A shrewd move, saving the young cast and the audience from any dodgy scouse accents, and giving the wardrobe team plenty of scope for big hair and shoulder pads!
As expected from Willy Russell this is a play full of social comment delivered  compassion, and biting wit! Can a day out from school make a difference to a bunch of kids with few or no prospects? Can the attitudes of staff towards them be changed?
A fine balance is needed between the hopelessness and the humour. Over do either and the play wouldn't work. The humour pierces the pathos of the kid's situation, and some well delivered speeches tackle the social issues of class  prejudice, and academic snobbery.
There are some demanding speeches for some of the characters in this play, and they were delivered with conviction by the young actors. Notably where Miss Kay (Anna Robinson) tries to convince Mr Briggs (Lara Cowler) of the value of a day out for the kids who have so little else to look forward to, and when Mr Briggs persuades Carol (Alex Carmichael) away from the cliff.
Other performances of note are the Bored Girls (Lauren Gillen and Jess Rootham)  - who manage to maintain their sullen bored expressions throughout, even on the rollercoaster! And the Madonna clones, besotted with the trendy young teacher! We all knew girls like that at school!

The slide show in the background is a great touch, scrolling through iconic images from the sixties ( how many can you name?)  and then showing the cast, in character at the fair, screaming on the roller coaster and eating candy floss and ice cream. So the audience get to see the pictures that maybe never make the light of day? 
Overall this is great, fun start to the season. I look forward to seeing some of these talented young actors in future productions. Well done to all involved. 
Our Day Out plays until Saturday 21st September

Denise Sparrowhawk

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