Watch out Edinburgh Fringe! Newbury Youth Theatre's on its way
Newbury Youth Theatre Edinburgh preview: The Lost Letters at Arlington Arts on Saturday, July 23. Review by BEN PROUT
Newbury Youth Theatre delivers a tight, packaged performance that connects stories of misplaced correspondence with the reality that we live in.
The 18-strong cast, with ages ranging from 12 to 17, file onstage to the moody tones of a guitar while Corrigan, our hero of few words, rummages stealthily through waylaid letters. It’s these stories that provide the narrative for the show. In characteristic NYT fashion we are invited along a winding path of bureaucratic angels, basement scammers and many more colourful characters.
The cast are clothed in long brown jackets, emblazoned with shipping terms: Fragile, Do Not Bend, Small Package. These jackets become at once post office uniforms, overcoats in no-man’s-land or a cat’s fur. The set is minimal, with the ensemble weaving between stacks of cardboard boxes, but everything has its place.
The ensemble work is unsurprisingly beautiful as we meet a father on the front of the First World War, fashioning fantasy out of the horrors he sees, so as not to frighten his daughter back home. In a sequence reminiscent of Les Enfants Terribles or early Tolkien, the trench becomes a ‘Loathly Wyrm’ who prophetically proclaims: “I am the leviathan, I turn the world… my fight is with what fathers want, they fight to be more than they are.”
Time and time again, the writing and direction provided by Amy and Tony Trigwell-Jones as well as Robin Strapp, coupled with the devised nature of the show makes for moments of genuine beauty and thoughtful commentary. Three islanders attempt separated romances while a boy sings of loneliness. A young girl begs the tooth fairy for some money to help her struggling mum during a living crisis, an ever changing mass of faces yells that: “We win when all life is important, when lives take precedence over self preservation… fear and division feed the dragon.”
And among the cacophony of strewn envelopes, tides of mewling cats and hazes of bubbles, emerge stories of hope, love and mischief.
The Lost Letters is a potent mix of charm, sincerity and playfulness, storytelling masterfully and sensitively done.
Watch out Edinburgh Fringe!
- Since their inception over 35 years ago, the award-winning young company have explored exciting new ways to tell stories through ensemble techniques, playfulness and touches of simple magic.
- They have always operated on the principle that high quality theatre can be made collaboratively with young people. They aim to harness the creativity of the workshop experience, developing themes and ideas through a variety of performance styles and techniques.
- For more than 20 years they have toured a production to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where they have enjoyed many four and five star reviews, more recently receiving two significant awards, being highly rated over hundreds of professional theatre makers from all over the world.
- Through these experiences they have become known as one of the best young companies in the UK.
- They return to Edinburgh this year, opening on Monday, August 8, following this preview performance in their home town.