July 3, 2008

Young Actors Should Be Proud

This was a most rewarding evening of youth theatre. It opened with Grenville College in The Book Of Everything, based on Guus Kuijer's novel, by Peter Tabor, who had contributed the memorable Feather Boy to the Connections festival two years ago.

As the title suggests, it covers a multitude of themes, but primarily it depicts 12-year-old Thomas' rite of passage as he attempts to find some happiness in his life.

This seems unattainable since his father, seeking to become an elder of his church, is a hypocrite and a bully who believes that chastising his son and beating his wife are the ways in which he can bring them to walk in the narrow path he has chosen. Eventually it is his daughter who stands up to him. A strong play for a large cast, written in short scenes linked by musical interludes played live by a quintet of musicians, this proved consistently both gripping and entertaining.

It also brought some notable performances, especially from Connor MacGillivray, confident and finely nuanced as Thomas, Tom Marsden as the Pastor, out of touch with reality, and Tom Vinall in the difficult role of the bigoted Father, but the whole cast merit credit for their pacing and projection.

Then came a change of programme. The scheduled performance by Queen Elizabeth College of It Snows, which Looe Community School had staged on Wednesday, was cancelled because of pressure of exam work.

At short notice the Theatre Royal's own Young Company presented scenes from the play, with special emphasis on the physical aspects of the story. I had commented that this was not one of the project's better plays, but the extracts worked perfectly well, and gave a satisfactory taste of the original.

All who participated in this New Connections, especially on this final night, can be congratulated on their dedication and achievements.

(c) 2008 Plymouth Evening Herald, The. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.