Review: Young & Hungry 2015 season
The Young & Hungry festival of new theatre provides young people with the opportunity to gain practical experience working in a theatre under pressured timeframes. Actors, technicians, designers, & directors have all been mentored through the programme.
The three shows in the 2015 season are quite different in style but uniformly entertaining.
How to catch a Grim Reaper by Helen Vivienne Fletcher is based in a student flat. Tobias (Andrew Clarke), Robbie (James Calverley), Stacy (Isabella Woods), and Josh (Hamish Boyle) are hoping to catch a Grim Reaper. When they do, the unexpected appearance of flatmate Mel (Erin Hurley) escalates the situation. Rachel (Emma-Yvonne Simons) and Spencer (Brodie Taurima) just want to leave, but Tobias won’t let them.
The shifts of power and emotional dynamics throughout the play are well handled by the cast under the direction of David Lawrence. Some clever AV trickery by Keegan Bragg, and lighting by Aisha Atherton provides the spooky factor as do a heart-beat like special effect, and sound design by Sarah Burton. Special mention to stage manager Eleanor Yule for all the little things that decorate the flat.
The presentation of findings from my scientific survey of the first 7500 days of my life done in the interest of showing you how to live better lives, by Uther Dean, is a challenging piece that breaks a bunch of the rules as to how theatre works. Max (Maria Williams) has spent her whole life analysing her mistakes, her successes, and the people around her. She’s gathered some of them together – her brother Ash (Matthew Savage), friends Rory (Josephine Byrnes), and Elliot (Bridget Newick), plus musician Jay (Andy Gartrell), and technician Bill (Ryan Knighton) to help her.
Anchored by a strong performance by Williams the rest of the cast orbit around her character like planets around the sun. Savage and Byrnes have their characters particularly thrilled to be there as part of Max’s presentation. They show the love their characters have for single-minded Max very well. Newick and Knighton seem less thrilled to be there, but even they bow to Max’s determination to have things her way. Gartrell and Lilia Askew (Kelly) are the two characters who kick against Max the most and yet Max is compelling enough that even they are drawn in by her. Sally Richards has a clear directorial vision for this piece and it shows.
The 21st Narcissus by Sam Brooks explores how social media interacts with our lives. An ensemble show that has a chorus of performers from which several characters are highlighted. It’s a busy performance with lots of scene changes, little snippets of conversation, constant updates, and the occasional selfie. The closest experience of social media that you’ll get while sitting in a theatre not using social media. It’s also about identity, relationships, safety, and the (sometimes) ridiculous things we do in order to connect with someone else.
The cast are not assigned characters in the programme which is a nice way of referencing the idea that on the internet we are the identity we create for ourselves. For Jordan (Peter Rogers) and Julia (Adeline Shaddick) this means one close to their every day identities. They are sweet as they interact via Facebook. For Kyle (Oscar Fitzgerald) it means getting further away from his love for Avril Lavigne & Cheryl Cole, and ever closer to disappearing into the demands of his Tumblr fans. @JeanSkills (Brontë Fitzgibbon), @FreyaValkyrie (Isadora Lao), and @HarriettheSly (Jane Wills), Twitter is where it’s at. They reinforce each other and gossip about the others. The rest of the cast – Jacob Brown, James Douglas, Daniel Fitzpatrick, Simon Howard, Kelsey Robson , and Eliza Staniland – play other people on Twitter with verve, as well as shifting the set (by Andrew Welsh) around so that images can be projected onto it. Everyone is responsible for creating the energy of the piece which was directed by Uther Dean.
There’s one week of the season left with all shows on until 25 July at BATS Theatre. Each one is worth seeing by itself, but there’s a special deal if you see all three.
- How to catch a Grim Reaper by Helen Vivienne Fletcher, directed by David Lawrence
- The presentation of findings from my scientific survey of the first 7500 days of my life done in the interest of showing you how to live better lives, by Uther Dean, directed by Sally Richards
- The 21st Narcissus by Sam Brooks, directed by Uther Dean