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February 11, 2014

pronoun pic by Mark SeppleIN THE 20 or so years I have been covering the Queen’s Theatre, I have not  witnessed such mature and quality acting in youth theatre such as the Cut2 production of ‘Pronoun’ the week.

Part of the National Theatre’s Connection Youth programme, the Queen’s Cut2 (pic cast by Mark Sepple)  put on three performances on Sunday and Monday February 9 and 10, joining 230 other theatrical groups nationally, producing and performing one of 10 specially written plays.

Designed to give young people an opportunity to experience the full nuts and bolts of putting on a production from Marketing to Design, the Queen’s team showed how well it could work.

With a synopsis of ‘A love story about transition, testosterone and James Dean, it was a complex journey relating to a couple of childhood sweethearts where their future is brought into question with maturity making  the girl want to be a boy.

With a cast of 16 and a shadow creative team from the group of nine, all under 18-year-olds, it must have seemed an the impossible dream, but full credit to all concerned as they did it and with a great deal of panache and style.

national connectionsThe boy and girl, remarkably well played by Emma Prendergast and Lewis Bruniges took the plot in their stride and made the complex exchanges full of emotion and pain, delivering a series of strong brutal and impassioned  outbursts creating a real story to absorb.

It was helped by the creative settings and the audience sitting in a round on the main stage, an intimate chair’s width from the players.

The quality of the acting was astounding, gracefully producing that wonderful feeling of being an observer watching life being played out, something one comes to expect of theatre, but from professionals.

There were nine other named speaking parts, the couples friends who try to understand what they are going through and touchingly, help them rather than mock.

Joe Watch, Olivia Howard, Jemma Gardener, Charlotte Ward, Matthew Gentle, George Farmer, Hollie Casey, Gareth Withers and Gemma Willson, each player injecting their own nature into the dialogue, giving an ambience of understanding and gentle kindness.

The ensemble of nine were active and played cohesively as a group bringing out and emphasising points. They were including four of the above, and Sarah Scott, John Dalgliesh, Sarah Scott, Tyler Johnson and Phoebe French.

It was noticeable that they acted as one, a sign of real hard work and dedication to the play and importantly, to each other. It emphasizes the famous saying that there are no small parts in theatre, a significant building block for actors to learn.

The shadow technical team were equally impressive in the way the whole play flowed. Chloe Purslow and Katrina Carter with Stage Management. Matthew Cook and Nick Rainey with Props. Mellissa Lamacraft and Fay Davenport with Wardrobe. Harry Lamb with Lighting. Abigail Barthee with Sound and Michael Clarke with AV Projection.

Pronoun was incredibly complicated and the reviewer in me did note some parts of the play a where a mist of understanding caused the odd piece of action to blur. A very minor point and one that will not detract from the hard work put in by this group.

It was a huge achievement in the quality and enthusiasm each actor gave to their part, and so obvious making it a joy to watch and appreciate.

It was also an ample statement of the commitment to youth made by the Queen’s Theatre, a decade or more ago. In that short time, enthusiastic and talented young people have been nurtured and taught the magic of theatre in front of and behind the curtain. Something they will carry with them into adulthood.

pronoun queensFinally the education team of Patrick O’Sullivan (Director and joined by Amy Insole as Assistant), James Watson (Design) Andrew Linham (Composer and Musical Director, Alison Gainford (Lighting Design) and Lizzie Keeble-Watson on the book. Consummate professionals whose mixed talents made the whole thing happen.

Excellent stuff and I am sure some would comment on my enthusiastic appraisal, but when you see such marked improvement and achievement, why not. It’s worth giving the adjectives a good bashing!

Congratulations to all.

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