Skip to main content

Review of School Shorts: Star Brave, Brian Gravy & Who's Afraid Of The Bogeyman? at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

The Royal & Derngate Youth Theatre School Shorts consisted of two acts and to add to my confused mind I watched act two first. However this matters not as each act consists of two completely separate plays. Act two features the plays Stay Brave, Brian Gravy by Carl Grose and Who's Afraid Of The Bogeyman? by Mike Kenny. Both plays are short (no flies on me) and roughly about 25 minutes, also these two in particular featured very tough and heavy subjects.

*

Stay Brave, Brian Gravy is the lighter of the two but even so revolves around the potential divorce of Brian's parents and their constant fighting and physical violence. The latter is handled in a lighthearted way complete with comedy sound effects. However this doesn't disguise from the seriousness of the situation of what these young actors are performing. A spin on the divorce nature in the second half of the play adds a neat and thankfully more lighthearted element to proceedings.

At the centre of the piece is a wonderful performance by Louis Sheldon as Brian Gravy, he keeps a playful edge to the role despite the obvious tough subject and despite being script in hand (as are all), he never uses it. Josie Adams and Lewis Varrier also handle their tough roles as Brian's parents well and maintain the level at the right point for children performing such characters. It is overall a lovely entertaining piece considering the subject matter and the ensemble in all their collection of bizarre costumes are a delight.


*

Who's Afraid Of The Bogeyman? for me was considerably different and much more uncomfortable to watch. Mixing the heavy subject of parents concern at a child missing and challenging an innocent in connection with it, was I felt a touch too much for such young children to perform. The play itself was cleverly constructed and had very smart use of sentences being completed by different cast members., This was performed generally well considering the obvious challenge of keeping them the sentance moving. The use of the ticking clock was a lovely device, as was the knocking on doors. This saw the switching of this between the distressed father's pleas for help and then to those at the door, and was a tremendously clever idea. It was actually I think a better play than the first, but for me it had this edge of not being appropriate for such a young cast.

Having said all that, I remain assured that R&D are working totally professionally with these youngsters and director Ashley Elbourne himself made it clear that they had worked more upon the development of the characters and their paths through the plays than the performance itself, and for me leaving that afternoon, that is all the assurance that I needed to hear.


Performance reviewed: Saturday 21st, 2015 (matinee) at the Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton.

Stay Brave, Brian Gravy and Who's Afraid Of The Bogeyman? were performed for School shorts
 by the R&D Youth Theatre at the Royal & Derngate on Friday 20th March and Saturday 21st March, 2015. Details here: http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whatson/2015-2016/Underground/SchoolShorts/?view=Standard

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Hansel & Gretel by Warts & All at Delapré Abbey, Northampton

For those unfamiliar with Kneehigh Theatre (from where this show originally comes), the best way of explaining them is that they do traditional things, differently. This performance by Warts and All Theatre of their adaptation of the classic tale of Hansel & Gretel tells you much of what you need to know early on as a (human) rabbit is pinned down upon a table and skinned (half their costume removed). It is just one of an evening of wacky and quite brilliant moments as this production sours mostly for the sky of brilliance.

Handed to a cast of young performers, the result is often disturbingly professional. Sure it is still rough around the edges at times, but perhaps this helps the material. It doesn't actually matter if there is sparring from the cast with the audience, knowing looks and playfulness. It doesn't matter if one of the cast nearly knocks the cymbal of the musicians flying, perhaps it would have been even better if they had, this is anachic fun at its very b…

Review of Great Expectations by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Market Boy from The Actors Company last year was a remarkable show and is likely to stay with me for a long time, so following it with this year's production was always going to be a tough call and with their production of the epic Dickens classic Great Expectations, they at least didn't lack ambition.

I have to be honest, things for me didn't start well. The first few minutes of this adaptation by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod is a busy and convoluted sequence moving the opening part of the story in an unclear and often irritating way. For those present not aware of the original story, I wouldn't envy them trying to keep up with what is going on. However much of the trouble of this opening sequence is quickly corrected as scenes become more defined and controlled and the story is allowed to develop at a slower pace.

Perhaps also in the early part, it doesn't help either that the gender-swapped Magwitch played by Salli Bersham is a little too full on with the o…

Review of Once Upon A Grimm Tale by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company (Early) at Judge's Lodgings, Northampton

Once upon a time, there was a brave theatrical reviewer. He lived in a market town in deepest darkest Englaland, where many great and remarkable things of stage did occur. At the centre of this wondrous world of performing spectacles was a place referred to by many as the Royal Derngatus, a place of people pretending to be other people and telling tales of mystery, intrigue and frolics.

Within the fortressed walls of Royal Derngatus, there were a group of fearless players who entertained local folk for no reward, other than the thrill of seeing the joy in the faces of others. Those group of artists went by the name of Actors Companus, which many pronounced carefully when they did say it out loud. This group of merry men and women did have two forms, an early and a late, and but two days before this adventurous evening of forthcoming storytelling, the late group did perform for a third and final time a most amazing feat of theatre, going by the name of Great Expectations.


Our hero of thi…