Review: Plays for Today

By Hannah Morpeth #LYTFest14 blogger

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On Monday 28 July 40 young people, six drama workers and directors and a load of newspaper headlines came together to mark the beginning of the Plays for Today devising project at Live Theatre as part of this year’s Youth Theatre Festival: Right Here, Right Now. After a boat load of improvisation work, friend making and thinking up of big ideas we were presented with R.A.T.S, Testament and Book 13, three completely different but equally impressive performances.

I must admit I wasn’t sure what to expect when I dropped in at rehearsals for Book 13 earlier in the week when I found out that a dead body would be dragged across the stage with a frozen baguette rammed in its mouth but the result was a piece of pure hilarity. Tortured artist Oliver Trench, played by Live Theatre’s Youth Theatre’s Craig Bettison, is battling with the dreaded writers block but with support from his biggest and possibly only fan Anna things take an unexpected turn. Duo, Craig Bettison and Hana Mcrae lit up the stage from start to end with their energetic performances, both of them are destined for a bright career beyond youth theatre. The piece was topped off with a stellar pensioner double act, because no coffee shop would be complete without good old gossiping grannies.

What would be the last thing you would say to the world, the Russian clowns of Testament gave poignant displays of their final moments. Despite each clown having their own story the choreography of the performance brought them all together to move as an entire unit. The clowns ranged from beautifully simple to the more complex stories that leave you thinking about their lives an hour later. One clown tells “you don’t need popularity to survive. Sometimes when you win, you lose everything”. It is amazing that such moving stories came out of these talented young people, leaving me with hope for the future of theatre in Newcastle. I can’t wait to see more work from them!

The truth is out there, well, that’s what the R.A.T.S (Regular Average Teenage Subjects) are being told. In an age when it seems like we are forever being watched by Big Brother, who is actually watching us and who really holds the truth. R.A.T.S flags up the fact that you never quite know what you’re going to get when you, like everybody else, takes to online dating. In a light-hearted and entertaining way, the piece reminds you that you can never be fully sure who is listening and who has the truth.

Performer Georgia Oram tells the audience: “Kids are portrayed really badly in the news but some young people spend their summer going to Live Theatre Youth Theatre”. And what a great way to spend your summer it is! I for one already can’t wait for next year’s Festival to see what more, brilliant work the people of the Youth Theatre bring to Live Theatre.

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