NYT’s new play Fairies and Dragons of the Desolate Plain, written by Tony Trigwell-Jones, has been a huge success on the Edinburgh Fringe, with the audience tweeting their congratulations and the Quakers (the venue) acknowledging that it’s one of best yet. Now there’s a challenge for next year...
Awarding the show four stars, Iona Gaskell from Broadway Baby said in her review: “The show’s large cast are a force to be reckoned with. The best bits in the show involve how they transform the stage into a variety of settings, using just wooden benches and bodies, enhanced with effective choreography. This is especially potent in a haunting puppetry sequence that involves the entire cast and a torch to wonderful effect.
“This is an emotive and nostalgic play that showcases some wonderful young talent and some very creative
stagecraft. Definitely worth a visit.”
The British Theatre Guide’s Keith McKenna thought that “Newbury Youth Theatre gives a very confident, engaging performance with many striking images in the play.”
The company have worked really hard selling the show on the Royal Mile where they gave away 7,000 fliers, as well as working and living together as a professional theatre troupe. Some brave members did the early morning run up Arthur’s seat – a 12k trip. Reflecting on their week, 16-year-old Shauna, in her first-ever experience of Edinburgh said: “I love going about and seeing shows – there are so many. The feeling of independence is really great and I’ve loved doing the show, especially with such positive audience reaction. It was really cool living in the flats, looking after yourself and cooking meals.”
Also at the Fringe for the first time is Alex Storey, 16, who said: “Seeing the breadth of shows is incredible – you can see more shows in a day than I’ve seen in months. “Everyone is so passionate about theatre. The buzz is terrific.” Adam Taylor was with the company last year and, reflecting on his experience this year, said: “This has been the best week of my life. The standard is more memorable, with some excellent performances. I’m really going to be sad to leave at the end of the week.”
Sixteen-year-old Clare Woodage, who plays little Mabel, will not be returning next year as she will be concentrating on her A-levels. She summed up her week by saying: “It’s been great fun, with a wonderful atmosphere, and I think our play is terrific. I’ve loved being in the flats and we have all grown closer and become really good friends.”
They have seen lots of shows – from comedy, clowning to drama. Each morning at the company briefing, where notes were given on the previous performance, there was a section for good show/bad show where they talk about what they have liked and ones to avoid.
Co-director Tony Trigwell Jones was thrilled with this year’s production. He summed it up: “It’s been another great year at the Fringe, the company have turned in some brilliant performances and the show has been well received by audiences and critics. The young people have experienced interactive Ukrainian opera, moving naturalistic drama, satirical puppetry and improvised comedy hypnotism, the like of which can only be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe.”
“Through this and the experience of working on their own production at the biggest arts festival in the world, they have all made the kinds of friends and memories that will last them a lifetime.”
Following a celebratory dinner at the Apex hotel, where they were presented with souvenir travel mugs by the manager, they left Edinburgh on the long journey back to Newbury and have now arrived safely home, exhausted but with some wonderful experiences of the whole Fringe and many are already looking forward to returning next year.
If the Living Art Hungerford gallery were a band, curator Justin Cook would have cited “artistic differences” as the reason for his departure. He has now cut loose from the family firm to do his own thing at ‘Oil’, just a few doors down the road. TRISH LEE spoke to him about his new gallery, which recently launched with an exhibition in its ‘Boiler Room’