A complete archive of every major YAT production since 1970
by John Michael Tebelak
Music & New Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Review by Goerge Allan for Middlesex Chronicle (October 1981)Youth Action Theatre can usually be relied on to give performances of tremendous energy and drive.
But what this remarkable group achieves in its production of Godspell is something almost uncanny - a rapt intensity that transcends the auditorium, the audience and, indeed, the show itself. In effect; almost all the elements of divine inspiration!
Most potent is the scene in which Jesus bids farewell to his disciples - with each one he achieves a special kind of intimacy based on the individual relationships that he has built up earlier in the play.
This little scene, played out against a background of the song Willows, performed by the accompanying musicians, has a timeless quality that also embraces a universe of consciousness.
Hampton Court Theatre, where YAT presented this show last week, is notoriously difficult to handle accoustically, even more so when music is involved, so I was not surprised when there were so many problems of balance, but was distressed by some very rudimentary understanding of the use of a microphone by some of the cast.
In the main role, Gary Jones invested the character of the clown-innocent Jesus with a joy and life that, at times, bordered on the manic - but it did have the effect of throwing the quieter, more intimate moments into even sharper relief that usual - but I feared for later performances in the run - could he conceivably keep up this degree of activity?
In the dual role of John the Baptist and Judas Iscariot, David Gray made up for what he lacked in singing ability with an acting performance that was first-rate.
Among the huge cast there were some other outstanding performances - Carol Palmer's Turn back, O man, was a case in point, and Chris Walters led off We beseech Thee with an energy that matched that of Gary Jones.
Eric Yardley's direction was so good that it's not surprising that this production achieved such a success on its visit to Germany recently. Try to catch the performance at St James' Church, Hampton Hill on November 1 - you won't regret it!
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