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Review: Youth Theatre Festival at Newcastle Live Theatre

Heroes, Villains and Mortals
Youth Theatre Festival
Newcastle Live Theatre
Saturday 12th August 2017

It was International Youth Day so it was a perfect time to celebrate the creativity of the youth in the North East. The Saturday events included plays written by young people and performed by professionals; a pair of outdoor performances devised and performed by young people and finally Plays & Sketches written by professionals and performed by members of the Youth Theatre. It was a positive cornucopia of creative youth riches. Sunday will also feature an additional show with stand-up comics coached by John Scott.

Plays By Young Writers
Directed: Christina Castling
Dramaturgy: Gez Casey & Lindsay Rodden
Performers: Luke Maddison, Andrew Reed, Rosie Stancliffe & Daniel Watson

A sell out crowd met in the intimate surroundings of Live Tales building. The cast of four did a great job bring the work of the young play writers to life. Each piece had a different flavour. It was refreshing to hear the words of an 11 year old written by an 11 year old rather than by an adult trying to speak like a child. Conversely, many of the pieces had evidence of plenty of research into topics such as artificial intelligence or Greek deity.

The Found - by Abigail Buck
What happens when 2 heroes are perched above Newcastle trying to make sense of the work. Good observations into behaviour.

Brother Crow - by Alex Wood
Helping an injured crow results in an unlikely friendship and solutions to life’s problems are discussed in a deep piece.

The Admission - by Robert Oliver
An exploration into the world of online gaming and the relationship between the player and the unseen admin. The script had a number of funny moments as the audience recognised the scenarios.

The Thoughts - by Cerys Ford
A well thought out look at how best friends forever go through significant events together. As with many of the short plays performed, it had a lot of structure for such a sort running time.

The Missing Atlas - by Jake Bradbury
This was one of the scripts that clearly had been the result of either an interest by the writer or a lot of research. The well thought out ideas would also make a great script for an animation too.

The Found Audiologs of Doctor Olivia Marlow- by Kieron Stanners
This was a major monologue that Rosie Stancliffe did a great job with. It was a considered look into the ethics of artificial intelligence and scientific research.

Memory Lane For Madness - by Lukas Gabrysch
A psychologist is hit with amnesia but isn’t sure why.  It just shows how precious our memories are.

The Curly Wurly Correlation - by Pebble Jolly-Passant
This was a personal monologue about friendships and fitting in with the crowd. The need to be an individual is set against conforming to the rules of a group. This has the potential to be a part of a stand-up routine too and it had a number of lighter moments.

The Train­ - by Will Turner
Two people meet in a railway station buffet and one of them has a train to catch. This was another example of writing that felt far more mature than a “youth piece” and, like a number of the others, it has the potential to be worked into a longer study.

The time flew by in Live Tales and I hope the writers feel encouraged to carry on and explore their creative talents in the future.

Outdoor Performances
Homeless Heroes
Director: Tracy Gillman
Assistant Director: Jackie Edwards
Created & performed by Elspeth Robinson, Alex Faith, Pebble Jolly-Passant, Thea Nicholls, Louis Smith and Jessica Thompson.

The Homeless Heroes was a conceptualised piece highlighting the issues of homelessness and the attitudes to the causes of homelessness.  Last year the outdoor space was launched with a performance by the members of the Youth Theatre that involved no speech. This time around the two performances both had the kids projecting their voices and this was good to see.

Heroes Recruit
Director: Katy Weir
Assistant Director: Bridget Ladyman
Created & performed by Finn Conlan, Niamh Conlan, Deven Latimer, Reece Lumsden and Kalem Patterson.

Heroes Recruit was an energetic and often funny routine that highlighted the heroes in our lives whether they’re your mother or a medical professional. The light-hearted comedy of the stages of superhero recruitment worked well.

Plays & Sketches
We have seen a number of these shows over the years and we are always impressed in the quality of the acting and maturity of performance. The confidence and composure of the young people is really impressive and this year’s cohort is no exception.

Who Made Who - by Steve Byron
Director: Gary Kitching
Performed by Tommi Vicky Otieno & Izzy Sorby
Tommi is dressed as Superwoman, Izzy is the Joker but no one is joking as she is perched on the edge of a building.
This was a great start to the set as 2 great actors work well with the script and show real passion as they explore friendships and backgrounds.

BOOBS - by Tracy Whitwell
Director: Jonluke McKie
Performed by Anna Emmerson-Robinson
This was the first of two great monologues. The daughter of a plastic surgeon would rather chill out in comfortable clothing and watch martial arts movies than trot around in high heels. Anna held the audiences attention and had real passion.

Deliver Who - by Laura Lindow
Directed by Christina Castling
Performed by Shahbaaz Khan
Arriving on his delivery bike we have a pizza delivery person who is proud of his work. Clear commitment to the companies policy of delivery in under 30 minutes, it starts with a few laughs as the preparation and kit are discussed to meet the targets. The monologue shows how it is possible to have a McJob and to show pride and show fairness. 

Superman Ate My Homework - by Vinay Patel
Director: Toni McElhatton
Performed by Finn Burridge, Carla Melaco & Miranda Williams
Imagine a world in which the journey to work is frequently disrupted by superheroes throwing the bad guys around. The action results in smashed windows and destroyed cinema screens. Meanwhile you’re trying not to be late for school run. This was a quirky look at live in a DC/Marvel world.

Five Get Lost in Gagg Wood - by Lee Mattinson
Director: Rachel Glover
Performed by Caitlin Fairlamb, Issac Nolan, Oscar Nolan and Theo Nolan
This was a hilarious end to the day. 4 great young performers had the audience chuckling away throughout the homage to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. There was a fabulous Comic Strip feel to Lee Mattinson’s writing. Add a dose of innuendo and chauvinistic behaviour that wouldn’t look out of place in an Austin Powers movie and you’ll get the general idea.

The Youth Festival is another success for the Live Theatre and credit goes to the team for producing an entertaining series of performances. The work that they do with the young people is invaluable and deserves our support. The young people performed and produced work which felt more mature than their age would suggest.

Review by Stephen Oliver

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