Saturday, August 9, 2014

Plays for Today - Review - Live Theatre

Plays for Today
Live Theatre
Thurs 7th August

Plays for Today kicked off "Right here, Right Now" Live Theatre's 15th Annual Youth Theatre Festival on Thursday evening. A set of 3 short plays inspired by news headlines, devised, written and performed by young people aged 11-19

R A T S - directed by Jackie Fielding

An intriguing take on the whole Big Brother concept (thankfully with more in common with Orwell than Channel 4, though there were elements of both) RATS saw a random group of teenagers manipulated into taking action through their online online game, a chat room, a dating site. A mysterious messenger grabs their attention via text messages and takes them off grid. Meanwhile in an unknown secure location a group of computer geeks begin to panic as their RATS disappear. An excellent observation on how computers have come to rule our lives, and on the worrying concept of secret surveillance by unknown organisations, for reasons best known to themselves. Light-hearted and funny, but with serious undertones, bullying, peer pressure, isolation - there was a lot packed into twenty minutes!

Testament - directed by Ben Ayrton
A much darker play. A troupe of Clowns (The Joker's influence clearly visible) give their final performance as the world ends. As the spotlight falls on individuals they give their testament to life and death. Bleak, pessimistic, heart-breaking. The epitome of teenage angst. I found this play very haunting and was fully expecting a bleak apocalyptic ending. Thankfully, I was saved from the despair of it all by the very clever volte face!
This was an excellent visual and atmospheric piece of drama.

Book 13 - directed by Neil Armstrong
This is the archetypal "sell your soul to the Devil" story. A successful writer finds himself struggling with writer's block, as he strives to write a winning novel. He wants his 13th novel to be better, different to the ones that have gone before. After imploring help from God and receiving nothing, he turns to the devil and help is forthcoming. But at a price - he finds that everything he writes begins to happen for real, with deadly consequences. Events spiral out of control and his life is ruined - or is it - in the end he does write that elusive Book 13.
I loved this - a quirky, funny play with some excellent comedic moments. A dark tale but then most good comedy has a dark core!

The three plays were excellent - thought provoking and engaging. The fact that they had been devised, written, rehearsed and performed by three groups of young people who had possibly never met before, is astounding. There were some brilliant performances by these young actors. They should be rightly proud of the achievements.

The performances were followed by an interesting and intriguing Q&A panel, to give the audience some insight into the process behind the plays and the festival. Brilliantly done.
Here's to the 16th Youth Theatre Festival next year!

Denise Sparrowhawk

And if someone can remind me what R.A.T.S. stands for I'd be eternally grateful...knew I should have written it down!

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