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by Tennessee Williams
The play takes its title from its setting, alluded to El Camino Real, a dead-end place in a Spanish-speaking town surrounded by desert with sporadic transportation to the outside world. It is described by Williams as "nothing more nor less than my conception of the time and the world I live in".
Youth Action Theatre tackled its most ambitious play to date last week - Camino Real, Tennessee Williams' bizarre vision of hell.
And that's saying something. YAT hasn't exactly shied away from difficult plays in the past, with memorable productions of The Winter's Tale, Spring Awakening and The Crucible to its credit.
Eric Yardley, founder/director of the group, believes there is no limit to the potential of his talented and energetic youngsters. He could scarcely have chosen a more taxing piece for them - and him - to attempt than Camino Real.
It has some 40 speaking parts and the stage is frequently full of people. Apart from the inherent technical difficulties, it is unbelievably self-indulgent on the playright's part - to such an extent that the audience is kept in total bewilderment most of the time.
Surprisingly, this doesn't prevent it from making good theatre, thanks to the consistently poetic narrative and typically vivid characterisation. Only Williams could have got away with it, you feel.
His hellish fantasy is peopled with the likes of Casanova, Byron, Don Quixote and numerous non-entities from all walks of life. Presiding over the motley is a sauve, sardonic major-domo called Gutman, played with authority and style by Kevin Browne.
Stephen Bentley's heavy-lidded condescension came in very handy for Casanova, and David Lewsey's spellbinding speech, as Byron, about Shelley, was one of the production's highlights. Keith Holmes injected some much-needed light relief as Kilroy, the swaggering American boxer.
Melanie Wood's atmospheric set cleverly incorporated much of the set used on Teddington Theatre Club's last show, The Cavern. And there were some very pleasant sounds coming from Clive Stott's guitar and Lucy Wellstood's mouth.
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