Hats off – yet again – to Birmingham’s Stage 2 youth group. I did not like last week’s choice of play – David Hare’s The Permanent Way – but some 70 youngsters were on stage to present it with nothing less than professionalism.
It is quite remarkable how director Liz Light, starting from virtually nothing every time, has been imbuing successive waves of children and young people with the ability to wear any kind of dramatic challenge as if they had been measured for it.
Speech and movement, individual and in partnership, are always made to measure in the finished article, shining forth and stunning even an audience that has grown to expect nothing less over the last quarter-century.
This time, on the stage of the Crescent Theatre, they tackled the story of the successive rail disasters of the 1990s. They were the survivors, the bereaved, the bankers, the government inspectors, the clergy, the civil servants and the police – so convincingly that the anomaly of age difference simply did not become a factor.
Extended soliloquies came without a hitch, punctuated by slow-motion mass collapses as the youngsters performed totally disciplined stylised re-enactments of train crashes.
Next, again at the Crescent, they make one of their recurring revolutionary visits to Shakespeare. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest and Much Ado About Nothing have bewitched us in the past with their casts of thousands – the Dream as recently as April.
Now, inevitably with a company hardly recognisable from the 2003 version, it is the turn of Twelfth Night again, from December 16-19.
* As it happens, Solihull’s Union Theatre has also been having a successful run with Twelfth Night, in the Solilhull Manor House Gardens – in the best weather it has experienced in 23 outdoor productions. But now, the group will be moving indoors, to perform Saint Joan in Yardley Parish Old Church, in aid of its spire repair appeal.
The link is John Seeley, a member of Union Theatre, who is also churchwarden at Yardley. After his recent incarnation as Sir Toby Belch, his theatrical responsibilities from October 15-17 will find him becoming the Archbishop.
* The Swan Theatre, Worcester, will be opening its doors on August 17 for a backstage tour conducted by theatre director Chris Jaeger and technical manager Jake Chambers.
They are offering you the chance to perch in prompt corner, lurk in the lighting box, drop into the dressing rooms and wait in the wings.
There’ll be lots of enlightenment, with a drink to follow, all for £5.