FringeReview Scotland 2016
Nine young people are coming to the end of their time as apprentices on a scheme, and are hoping to be “kept on”. Through a series of musings, movements and mania we get their take on a variety of topics that do not include much about the world of painting and decorating. With high energy and focussed set pieces the audience enjoy the mayhem and wonder that comes from being young and having a stage on which to dance.
We begin by being introduced to the nine actors coming out into the audience and interacting haphazardly with us. From there they congregate onstage and begin a movement piece, which later on they shall complete in reverse. In between their beginning and their end we have a number of set pieces which involve movement, dialogue and comic escapades and stories which begin to give us the characters that are onstage in brief focus. From sorting the week and who does the tea to the functional need to get the paste correctly on the paper we have much to contemplate as the young team set out to discover.
Youth theatre, when it is done well, in my opinion, is when it has the shackles of the musical or worthy performances removed and enters the world of originality. To do so takes away the comparative nonsense that inhibits our young people. We want young people to be creative? Let them be. This is a group of young people who are highly creative.
The framework of the apprenticeships and “being kept on” became a metaphor to the endless uncertainty with which young people have always wrestled. Here, rather than end up in some worthy soap opera style storyline we get it touched upon and the stoic reality of them not being kept on is less of a hindrance than it otherwise might have been. They take the whole apprenticeship as a starting block – it means we get 9 distinctive personalities as they are flung thegither rather than turning up for a planned activity weekend.
This freedom sees them engage more readily with each other and with their audience and this was one of the boundless joys in watching them.
Technically my only gripe was when the wallpaper was put up on the video screen – artistic or not, I wanted to see the videos. They were well crafted and added to the depth of the piece. This was no simple teenage angst piece but a thoughtful set of musings.
One of the best things about the whole performance was how they handled the depressive young person. Rather than highlight the journey and pick apart how they got there, pointing to the friends that let them down or those that would howl at their unreality, it came from nowhere – much like mental illness. It made it all the more real and I was impressed to see such a sensitive topic handled so well.
Technically the set was enough of a mess to be convincing and the music and visuals that were used complimented and enhanced the entire experience.
I found myself at the end feeling that I could have gone another hour or so of watching them and it is great to know that in an area where people would think that high art would struggle there are some very able young people who can lift the mantle and get it ready to take with them, rather than pass it on.