A complete archive of every major YAT production since 1970
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A triple bill of plays.The Proposal
by Anton Chekov
A one-act farce by Anton Chekhov, written in 1888-1889 and first performed in 1890. It is a fast-paced play of dialogue-based action and situational humour.Frank Bay's Elegy
by Scott O'Brien
A devised piece.Taking Breath
by Sarah Daniels
Elliot, a young eco-warrior, has fallen from a tree-top during a protest and now lies comatose in a hospital bed. When he fell, he slipped into the past, meeting Lucy, a troubled servant-girl and suffragette from 1913. Elliot saves Lucy's life and, by doing so, is pushed back to consciousness, but he continues to call out, in anguish, for Lucy. Alana, excluded from school for selling drugs, passionately follows all Elliot's TV news coverage and, by strange coincidence, it becomes evident that it was Alana's great-grandmother that Elliot had saved. She is able to assist Elliot's recovery as well as using the past to find peace for herself. This remarkable and timely one-act play, from the author of The Gut Girls, was specially commissioned for the BT National Connections scheme for young people in 1999.
Review by George Allan for The Hounslow Chronicle (June 2001)
No one has a higher regard for Youth Action Theatre than I, but this triple bill was, in truth, only a partial sucess. Fortunately, they are eager to learn from less triumphant efforts.
To begin with: Chekov's The Proposal can be very funny, but needs careful control of pace and movement - here the two male characters were allowed by director Alice Langrish to gable lines.
Tim Read as Stepan Stepanovich did not have the weightiness of delivery to differentiate him from the Ivan Vasilyevich of Miles Orru. Emma Donaghy as the explosive Natalia Stepenova was more successful in creating a rounded personality.
There followed Frank Bay's Elegy, written and devised by Scott O'Brien and the cast. Sadly, what could have been an interesting work descended into incoherence, mainly due to too little communication of the ethos of the story. The actors were Adam Green, Cheryl Stockman and Carol Anne Summers.
The success was Sarah Daniels's Taking Breath, a fantasy touching on communication between generations at the physical and hallucinatory levels, the taking of responsibility for one's actions and the mutual rivalry, love and cruelty between siblings.
Andy Thackeray directed with a clarity that swept aside any problems caused by inequalities of experience in his large cast - there was never a doubt as to what was happening, no matter how puzzled the characters on stage might be.
There is space only to mention four magnificent performances: Mark Wren as Eliot, whose mind experiences while in a coma were riveting; Vicky Joyce as Alana, a teenage rebel facing up to the enormity of her actions, and Cat Gerrard as her sister Gemma; and Sarah Watson as the two girls' great grandmother Lucy's spirit - certainly not her ghost, but a real person. This short play made the whole evening worthwhile.