Skip to main content

National Theatre Connections - The Wardrobe and Heritage at Royal & Derngate (Royal and Underground)

The National Theatre of ten new plays for young people reached Northampton this week on its countrywide tour, and I was able on the first day to see two of them. Good fun they were too.

The first, The Wardrobe by Sam Holcroft was probably a cleverer idea on paper than the success on stage. The idea was that it told the tale of various interludes through time of the very same wardrobe and was made up of small parts, some of which worked more successfully than others. It was perhaps actually on the part of the performers than some parts felt more alive. Particularly the boys convent section which was superbly played by the group, as well as an earlier part where a young Alan Carr literally stole the show with his upper class performance.

Another thing that jarred a little was the actual staging and use of the wardrobe. It was bizarrely big at times and seemed in one section to have another exit. Fair enough for freedom of the play, but if you are really going to restrict your play idea to a wardrobe, you really need to work with the confines of it for the audience to accept it. A pleasant enough play though with a great idea, but did not really fulfil its promise.

Heritage, written by Dafydd James and performed by Stopsley High School however was a completely different story. Dark, funny and sometimes gloriously rude, this was a wonderful little play. A group of young people have been gathered together to perform a village anthem, but as the play develops, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems.

For the most part this feels like a modern day Lord Of The Flies, with a band of youngsters together, but not really getting on with one another and exchanging insults, potential romance and some really very funny conversations. The young performers were also excellent, with some huge potential in the future I should imagine if they stick with it.

This really is a very dark comedy and it is actually made I think much more powerful by the fact that the performers are so young. A real gem!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Madame Bovary by Masque Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

Rosanna Lowe's version of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary was originally commissioned by Simon Godwin for the Northampton Royal Theatre, so it perhaps seems apt, that it returns to a stage of the same town, in this new wacky interpretation from Masque Theatre.

Masque's publicity for the show, describes it as a "madcap tragedy", and for those more familiar with Flaubert's novel you shall perhaps be a little surprised by the anarchic version created here. This is tragedy played for full-on slapstick effect, and while at times it might seem overwhelming in its intensity, the ride we are taken on is a delight.

Directed by Tamsyn Payne and Alex Rex and a team of talented creatives, Madame Bovary's props and design are every bit as important as the talented cast wielding them. For an amateur production, the attention to detail is nothing short of staggering. Gloriously created books filled with delights, puppet dogs and children, mini nuns, and little baskets…

Review of Hamlet by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

I am personally all about making Shakespeare accessible, I take the Emma Rice line, that many were not keen on, that after a few hundred years, it's perhaps worthy of mixing it up a bit to make it more meaningful to a modern audience. I have a feeling the man himself would have no qualms about seeing his classic Hamlet transposed into a garish multi-coloured world, set in a much more hip place.
The Denmark that we see here and that is still referenced, is now very much an African country, and not just because of the heavy black actor casting, this is all about a style and a carnival feeling to many of the scenes. Music is provided by tribal-like drums, and characters stalk the scenes carrying handguns and rifles, bringing a modern feeling to the conflict as well. This is certainly not the "rotten state of Denmark" that most Shakespeare aficionados are familiar with.
Characters are changed drastically as we have more cocksure, swaggering, modern feeling to the individual…

Review of The Rover at the Holy Sepulchre, Northampton

I have seen very little restoration comedy, and with Playhouse Creatures early this year, very much Restoration period, Masque Theatre has provided much of it this year, with this edition of Aphra Behn's 1677 play The Rover or The Banish'd Cavaliers. Behn was quite a landmark writer, recognised as one of the first women to make a living from writing (and has an extraordinary real-life worth researching). Perhaps having watched The Rover now, you can see why her work might well have been accepted back then. It is suitably bawdy, really extremely rude at times in places, definitely farcical (with disguise situations aplenty that wouldn't fool a blind man with a blindfold on) and perhaps most importantly, makes the woman much of the time the victims in the frequent sexual exploits. It clearly wasn't being anything that a man of the time wouldn't write, and probably means it lay a suitable path for success for Behn as a result.

The Rover itself is tremendous fun, ploug…