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/

Popular posts from this blog

Review of The Worst Witch at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Jill Murphy's The Worst Witch first appeared in print in 1974, bringing its tale of an academy for witches to the first of a few generations. It was a long time before a certain boy wizard made his first appearance in a school of his own, and doesn't Emma Reeves, adaptor for the stage, know it. There are many a jibe at the HP universe in this stage version, that even I, someone who has never read or watched any of them (yes, really), could pick up.

Mildred Hubble arrives by mistake at the wrong university, a "normal" or "pleb" far removed from the rest of the students at Miss Cackle's Academy. Here she meets friends and enemies, and a certain evil twin bent on world domination.

Reeves' adaptation starts off slightly shakily as we are presented with what at first threatens to be a cheap rip-off of the mega stage hit The Play That Goes Wrong as we are introduced to the premise that this is a play put on by the students, complete with copycat stage ma…

Review of The Pillowman at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

The Pillowman sounds such a friendly title, and to be fair, his story is one of the lighter aspects of Martin McDonagh's script. It still involves dead children though, if you want to get a clear vision of how dark this play is.

Set in a police state of the future, Katurian (Toby Pugh) is taken in for the content of his often violent stories and a similarity to a spate of recent child killings. Here in detention cell 13, his police captors, Tupolski (Adrian Wyman) and Ariel (Steve While) play good cop, bad cop while holding over the threat of violence against Katurian's mentally disabled brother Michal (Patrick Morgan), being held in another cell.

The Pillowman is clearly a very warped story, with the blackest of black comedy, and often also very offensive with it's racial stereotyping and disability. In fact, it is no surprise that a couple left in the interval, as I would happily admit that this play is far from everyone. I like a good black comedy though, and lifting an …

Review of Broadway Lights And West End Nights at Northampton College

I have followed the acting course at the University of Northampton for the last five years now, but this Saturday I experienced the Level 3 Musical Theatre group at Northampton College for the first time, as they presented a performance by their first and second-year students. The evidence from this first encounter suggests that there is some very good talent on its way through this course.

The evening presented a nicely varied selection of performances from six shows, Avenue Q, Rent, The Lion King, Cats, Mary Poppins and Sweet Charity, both providing some lovely singing routines and a few of pure dance, allowing the students to show many of their, very obvious, skills.

From the collection of 21 routines presented, there were a few standout moments, the best of which for myself was Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer performed by Tom Kalek and Lily Cushway. This was a routine of such polish that I would happily have watched on any stage, never mind a student performance. Kaley and Cushway…