Browse reviews

FringeReview Scotland 2013

River Dreaming

Snapshot Youth Theatre, Youth Theatre Perth, Australia

Genre: Drama


Scottish Youth Theatre




Low Down

 Snapshot, from Australia, begin by introducing us to the indigenous mythology of the beginning of the history of the area from where the Youth Theatre come. We are then taken through a school history project that is designed to introduce the incomers of the past – from Holland, Britain – to those attempting to preserve the area environmentally for future generations. It is a crisp and efficient way of getting history into the minds and conscience of an audience. 


 This is a standard Youth Theatre format of using a teenage dilemma to structure a piece of mainly educational theatre. We have a nice movement piece to introduce the aboriginal mythology before we meet the teenage girl with a 20 page project to be written on the history of the local area, the Swan and Canning Rivers. She has a relationship with her laptop, Stacy – her only friend – that serves to drive the narrative. From that conceit the laptop drives us through meeting a number of historical figures, found through Google that develops the narrative. From the initial settlers to New Holland to the arrival of James Sterling from Britain we are entertained and informed with the tale of then till now.
The script carries with it a standard Youth Theatre format; a puzzle that had been given to a young person and which needs some help – in this case Stacy the laptop. This is a structure that doesn’t always help the narrative. It leaves us, at times, rather floundering as there is a flash forward to the 1950’s and then a flash back to the 19th Century as there is a thematic development rather than a historical one. It doesn’t always keep us on our toes and coupled with the final piece that was simply a reading – literally – of local government initiatives to help keep the river healthy, it makes for an uneven feeling.  The script could have done with having more courage, abandoning the initial structure and giving us more interplay between historical figures.
This was a well acted piece. I did find the teenage girl, at times, struggling to engage because she was trying a wee bit too hard, but I think she was stuck with a script that called for that level of desperation. It was a pity because she was certainly as able as all of the rest of the cast. There were some fine singing in there and I really liked the movement pieces as well as the use of tableaux. 
In terms of design it came with a set that would have had to have been brought from Australia or organised here thus brining with it limitations but it was more than adequate. The direction gave us some great set pieces though the whole James Sterling piece played with a more than passing nod to Monty Python was not plundered enough. I could have done with more rehearsal and more time on that. The singing at the end was a complete delight and we could have done with a more creative way of getting the list of environmental improvements in at the finale.
In terms of a Youth Theatre show it was not the most radical I had seen but certainly decent fare. What really got my attention was here was a Youth Theatre making the journey and NOT ending up at the Fringe in Edinburgh; huge kudos for that. I was delighted to see it at the Brian Cox Studio in Glasgow’s Scottish Youth Theatre as it is vastly under used as a venue. It is intimate and great in which to watch things.
I got to catch the last night of their run which had seen them in Wales and In London prior to their Scottish “leg”. It meant I was able to see all the flower presenting and speech making. For some this can be a tad tedious but I quite enjoy them perhaps as someone who was involved in youth theatre for years and was a recipient of so many of these wee presentations I am just missing them… You got a sense here of the immense back stage help needed to make this thing happen – from supporters who travelled, directors who adapted and parents who turned up at the other side of the world – this was an immeasurable achievement.
In terms of its artistic content I would have loved to have seen more given to these fine young actors in terms of allowing us the audience to interact with the concepts and message rather than following a structure that was slightly a hindrance. They appeared to be a company who could handle the challenge and at times were nothing short of fantastic to watch.

I would love to see them perform again but somehow think that I would struggle to find someone willing to pay my travel expenses!  


Show Website

Snapshot Youth Theatre