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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

The Kettling

Hungry Wolf Visionary Youth Theatre

Genre: Drama, New Writing, Theatre, Youth Theatre

Venue: theSpace on the Mile - Space 1


Low Down

Kelly and Hope are an item, Kelly is going to a climate change protest, whilst Hope has left to volunteer at the Jungle in Calais. Liam and Jolene are there because Liam, unbeknown to Jolene is planning revenge for what happened to his brother. Alex has an audition to attend and a £6,000 violin. Roman has come to the protest with Kelly and struggles with crowds. Maisie has arrived with a metaphorical flower in her hair and some information which is massively important to Liam. And then as a form of crowd control the police kettle the protesters and each of them aside from Hope is stuck. As tensions rise, revelations are shared and the only person most at risk seems to be the one who is not there.


When Youth Theatre is good, it uses all of the attributes it has to great effect – rehearsal time to gestate ideas, opportunity to take risks, numbers in the cast. Hungry Wolf clearly knows how to use each of these.

This is a slick performance with plenty to admire. Characters have been drawn well and though sometimes they can tend towards the clichéd they are drawn back in. What you get are actors who know what their characters are and who they represent. We have young people playing young people with the fresh ideology we claim as naivete but is simply the lost youth of our lives destroyed by compromise. But despite that, this is a group of young characters who can compromise, who can see beyond their own selfishness – who knew…
I liked especially the nod to neurodiversity which is a particular issue amongst the young – and quite rightly so.
To take the script and manage its message takes a decent directorial hand and here the time taken to consider each journey of each character works. It is delivered in a manner where the choices made in the rehearsal room bear fruit. Characters are given time, entrances and exits may be clumsy due to the venue but assured in terms of arrivals and not ending up with anyone or anything being bumped whilst the flashbacks make perfect sense. They are not bundled as some extra information but are anchored into the narrative. The use of the whole space is good, and we can see how the extra actors in the ensemble really make a difference. It is hard to underestimate their importance and when you get transitions – especially flashback sequences – managed with such skill, they play their part with great patience.
As for the cast it is really an exemplary ensemble piece. If the backing of the ensemble is a great platform, then each of the principals have to play their part as a collective whole. Believable, genuine, authentic and in a skin, they inhabit their roles because there is someone, somewhere I am sure, they can match and use to relate to who they are playing. Many a Youth Theatre would do well to take a leaf from this playbook.
Theatre arts are well thought through with changes in sequence well delivered – loved the phone calls, the messages on the banners and the soundtrack of the noise of the protest. And also loved the fact it was known when to dull it and then remove it without losing the effect.
There was nothing particularly radical or innovative at play here, but it had a very secure impact upon us all. The twists and the narrative showed a clear understanding of the role of theatre, what makes good youth theatre and how the development of young actors needs exposure to a creative process which recognises where they are in their own development. This showed the fruits of a proper process. I left knowing there are safe hands in which these young actors shall develop.

PS Kettling became a massive political issue in Scotland over its use with football crowds so not only on point dramatically but zeitgeist