Skip to main content

Review of Kontakt by R&D Youth Theatre at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

Theatre at its very best is a totally encapsulating experience. While you are relaxed in your theatre seat, you want to be taken to this created land and dragged into the lives of the people on the stage. You want to suffer the stress, the fun, the wide-eyed joy of those actors in front of you.

Royal & Derngate's Youth Theatre gives you a very different immersive experience with Kontakt. During it running time of 45-60 minutes, you are very much part of the performance. Not any old part, you don't get dragged on stage for a couple of minutes here or there. You are pretty much fifty percent of the show, for the whole show.

Originally created and developed by Philip Mackenzie for the Sherman Cymru Youth Theatre in 2008, the format is on paper simple, if a little scary to the audience member. You and a youth theatre actor share a table for the duration of the show partaking in games, simple question answering, drawing, some more deeper thoughts on life and dancing. For those regular theatre goers, all of that stuff sounds worrying. Indeed in the last year or so I have seen all the youth theatre shows (some more than once), and I have to say I had reluctance on this one. It is a hard sell, its true. However I was always going to go to it and now having been, it was a even mistake to think not to.

During the whole experience you are never uncomfortable. You may have a little apprehension. You may have a little fear in your belly. You may even discover your inability to use an early generation mobile phone. However the whole experience is a joy like no other you could experience. Philip Mackenzie said himself "How often does an adult sit across from a table with a 15 year old and have a meaningful interaction or conversation?" It's pretty much never isn't it. My conversationalist was 18 year old Jacob, a mere 20 years younger than myself and I don't recall ever having had a conversation of anything like this with such an age gap. Also whether I was successful or not I don't know, but I managed to come out of my own true nature of shyness for this show. I have always tended to lurk and skulk rather than throw myself forward, and perhaps this engineered my fear of the show more. For the shows duration, I attempted and hopefully was successful to be a much more outward person. I certainly have never held eye contact for so long as anyone who has ever spoken to me with attain too. Oh what's that over your shoulder? This is very much a show where in theory the audience member could have a review as well.

The production of the show itself is also quite a masterstroke from Christopher Gorry and Jesse Jones from the slightly intimidating standing in a box which then turns into a clever and even more intimidating use of the R&D balconies. There is then the old retro phones which you can nearly remember how to use. The Underground itself has been turned into a delightfully dark interior with gorgeous bulbs (yes they can be gorgeous) and them wonderful old school desks to bring back the memories. It all creates quite an atmosphere for a really special show.

So thank you Jacob on not being at all intimidating. I have the pleasure of making Kontakt again tomorrow and now have less trepidation and now just a keen need to experience it all once again. I hope that somehow this show can be done again in future years and that other people like myself finally find that it is not at all scary, but more a dazzlingly inventive piece of interactive theatre that all should and I think truly would enjoy.



Performance reviewed: Friday 19th June, 2015at the Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton.

Kontakt is performed by the R&D Youth Theatre at the Royal & Derngate between Thursday 18th June and Sunday 21st June, 2015.

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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Balm in Gilead, University of Northampton BA Acting (Creative Acting) at Maidwell Hall, Northampton

Watching the production of Balm in Gilead sees my entering the fifth year of following the University of Northampton acting students, and what theatre they have provided over the years!

Balm in Gilead is no less intriguing than anything that has gone before, written in 1965 by Lanford Wilson, you might think this would be a dated item for the young students to be performing, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Set in a cafe (transposed to England from its original American setting), it sees the lives of addicts, homeless and sex workers converge into a mixture of good but mostly bad moments.
My first time in the Maidwell Hall saw an encounter with a brilliantly realised community full of the world of the cafe and the surrounding homes, cardboard boxes and dishevelled beds. As we enter the characters of this world begin living alongside us, addressing us, begging us for money, pushing shopping trolleys around offering off the cuff exchanges with the audience and confronti…

Review of This Evil Thing at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

This Evil Thing written and performed by Michael Mears isn't my first encounter with a play about conscientious objectors, however, it absolutely is the most detailed in its explanation of the subject. A clear and absolute labour of love from Michael Mears, and an obviously very personal thing for him, it leaves the audience pretty much in its grip for the whole of its 80 minutes.

Almost uniquely, our performer Michael Mears is in the theatre stalls upon entry, observing the arrival of the audience and indeed exchanging conversation at times. It's fascinating to see a performer not only there, but seemingly so relaxed pre-show and as he bounds on the stage at show start, this little nugget proves intriguing in itself.

Michael Mears is a captivating presence on stage, as previously experienced on the same stage in A Tale Of Two Cities and The Herbal Bed, therefore it comes as little surprise that he has a confident ability to make a one-man show work, and so well. With the use …

Review of Blood Brothers at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

A theatre in the east midlands, a thousand people stand applauding and cheering towards a stage where fourteen people stand. There on the stage, they bow, and bow, an inordinate number of times. They depart after a time and the lights come up over the capacity audience.

So did you hear the story of the Blood Brothers show, how people flocked and came to see them play?
Did you never hear about how we came to be, standing applauding the brightly lit stage this November day?
Come judge for yourselves how this night did come to be.

Blood Brothers was a significant show for me back in 2014, being the first musical that I saw live. Hiding up in the upper circle of the Derngate back then, not really sure what to expect, it was it turned out perhaps the perfect show to graduate me from play to musical that I could choose as Willy Russell's gritty and solid story is as confident as a straight play that perhaps any musical is. So strong is the story of the Johnstone's twins, that it liv…