The TakeOver Times The October Issue
Bed and Breakfast TakeOver Festival at the York Theatre Royal has introduced some really dynamic talent to the fray and none more gutsy than Katharine Markwick in her subtly dark, interactive play Bed and Breakfast. The scene is set amongst a series of tables which display the height of chintzy chic, reminiscent of post-war drawing rooms across the country. As the only player of the piece, Katharine Hardwick is solely responsible amongst a fairly bare set to create all of the tension as she begins her yarn (literally, this is good solid WI territory). We, the audience, as guests in her parochial B’n’B are guided through Carol’s life of quiet desperation over “breakfast”. Much like a Greek tragedy, all of the action has taken place offstage, and we are left to decipher the dark intent beneath the stagnant small talk of the unfulfilled and frustrated widow Carol, B&B owner.
Showcasing the reviews of our TakeOver young theatre The aspect that really shone in The Only Way Is critics, all aged 11-25. Chelsea’s was the acting. It wasn’t just believable,
it was absolutely superb. You could instantly relate to the characters, and create a backstory for them that you could immediately recognise. The evident star of the show was Di, who’s sneaky yet sensible personality really was a joy to watch. The story itself was a little unrealistic; it is unlikely that a YouTube channel with no subscribers would gain 1 00 views in less than a minute, for example, but it definitely highlighted the effect that social media and reality shows has on young people and society today.
The master-stroke of the involvement of the audience adds to the awkwardness of the ambience. Having This performance of Shakespeare’s grizzly and disturbing, revenge myself been subjected to having Weetabix plonked in tragedy, Titus Andronicus, by the unique, all-female cast, Smooth Faced front of me and frequent small talk by the leading lady, Gentlemen (I love that name!) was heartfelt, original and tasteful in its it’s easy to note that Katharine would be an excellent execution! master of ceremonies, neatly turning the audiences' age, looks and names into neat rapport as the The play is set during the dying days of the Roman Empire and tells the bumbling and graceless Carol, unaware of her own fictional story of Titus, a General in the Roman army who, to avenge the ridiculous frumpiness and clumsiness, always deaths of his two sons during the war, executes the eldest son of his remains sympathetic and familiar rather than pathetic enemy Tamara, the Queen of the Goths, unleashing a destructive spiral of and downtrodden. The evil becomes more apparent revenge. as a running thread through this comedy of manners and the change in that balance of power we perceive The passion of the cast and their command of the Shakespearian in the relationship between Carol and her husband as language created a powerful performance and the pain that they portrayed she reveals herself gradually from restrained old lady was believable. The play flowed naturally as the warlike, a cappella to triumphant murderess is one that we sense and yet singing carried you through the story. They expertly used a few props to are shocked by: a testament to Markwick’s flair for the convey the actions of the characters, including four pots of paint which appearance of mundanity in suburbia. intriguingly opened the play. With a simple white set that would be moved around to make the scene; SFG splashed vibrant brush strokes of sorrow This is a character accustomed to net curtain all around the stage; painting a blood red picture of the lives lost through twitching in a small world; her misplaced pride in vengeance and war. They ingeniously used lighting to make shadows commonplace local features and detailed knowledge behind the white screens which helped to tell the story. of her neighbours displays a woman sheltered from So as not to distract from this, (they explained in the “Q&A” afterwards), life’s opportunities who nonetheless runs the gamut of everyone wore the simple SFG “Storytellers’ uniform”, (a white shirt and human emotion, from dreaming with wild abandon trousers with braces), with a few extra cloaks/ jackets to clearly show their about simple, pastoral freedom to dormant cunning, characters. waiting and sinister plotting. A woman content to take orders from men but whom, through her dastardly Overall, this production was touching, poignant, heartbreakingly sad yet ends, is never entirely dominated. I thoroughly often humorous and, above all told a powerful and important message: enjoyed this play and I would recommend it to all. Revenge destroys everything!
Bethan Forrest The Ghost Hunter
The room instantly fell silent when the lights went down, everyone anticipating what kind of haunted tale we were going to receive. Tom Richards, playing Richard Barraclough sets the scene for a spooky hour of ghost stories with his dark top hat and slow, haunting bell ringing. However this theme doesn’t continue past the first 1 0 minutes. Yet where the play lacks in scariness it more than makes up for in comedy. Frequent references to local businesses and areas keep it light hearted and enjoyable. The storyline follows the lives of the men and women who give the ghost walks around York through anecdotes about them sharing their stories in the pub and seeing who can make up the best tale with references throughout about one particularly horrible story of a man called Pim at Bedden School. The lighting is used for both spooky and comical effect with dimmed lights and over exaggerated change of lighting. After an hour the play finishes and the lights go up. Although an overall enjoyable experience, I think that a play about ghost hunting ought to be scary, and this wasn’t at all.
The Only Way Is Chelsea’s
Between scenes and at the beginning and end of the play, an audio commentary played which consisted of young people being asked questions that were relevant to the play; for example, if reality television is damaging or not, and when one of the characters tells a lie that gets out of hand, the young people are asked what happens when large lies are told. This was definitely a play well-suited to a younger audience; with its strongl language, euphemisms and references to popular youth culture, older adults, particularly those without teenage sons and daughters would be unlikely to understand a lot of it. Nevertheless, I saw many older couples enjoying the play, as it an interesting production that is fun and easy to watch. It was also a perfect play for the Studio as opposed to the main stage; there was one location only – a teenager’s garage – and the few scene changes were well managed by the cast. I felt that, although the acting was terrific, they were playing characters somewhat older than 1 4. Their mannerisms and the way they spoke to each other suggested an older age group, but perhaps this was intentional.
The TakeOver Times
The Only Way is Chelsea’s
Root Theatre won this year’s TakeOver Residency Award at York Theatre Royal with their play, The Only Way is Chelsea’s, aimed at an under 26 audience. The play is about a teenage girl (Chelsea), who makes a pretend movie for Facebook. To do this she uses the Girl Guides as fake friends to make her popular cousin jealous. This is so successful in helping to make herself popular that she decides to make a second movie, using her friend Lee’s old Scout group. Unfortunately, the Guides and Scouts all want paying so Chelsea sells her mum’s engagement ring to raise the money and then it all turns “pear shaped!” The play is set in a garage and the scene changes worked really well by moving props around and changing Champions of Magic clothes on stage from the boxes in the garage and by As part of ‘TakeOver Festival 201 3, Champions of Magic is a brand-new show comprising 5 performances, 4 magicians, dimming the lights while playing real recordings of teenagers that had been interviewed to help develop the 5 doves, bawdy humour, Hawaiian shirts, numerous coins, multi-coloured scarves and about 1 0 bewildered audience volunteers. Magic can be considered like marmite; you either love it or hate it – this muddle of a show managed to story line. inspire both emotions. Even though the three characters, Chelsea, Dionne and Lee were in their twenties in real life, they had obviously The song ‘Time Cannot Erase’ accompanied a silver coin trick with brilliant synchronicity. The dated music, however, studied kids' behaviour because they portrayed typical which dominated the first act with ‘Is She Really Love?’, and the horrendous juxtaposition of classical and electro music, teenage mannerisms very well. Lee did a very convincing impeded the magic’s gripping suspense. It also proved to be an irritatingly loud distraction. hyperactive teenager. A projected screen hanging from centre of the stage provided close-ups on tricks, and announced the start of each act. The post-show talk afterwards was brilliant and explained Edward Hilsum was the first magician to take to the stage. A small man with lightning-quick fingers, a navy blue suit, the research behind the play which involved going into flamingo pink scarves, 5 doves, 1 rose, and a fantastically mischievous smile which would have made the Cheshire Cat schools, Guides, Youth Theatres and Youth Groups to find jealous; he truly encompassed the enigma of a traditional magician. By starting the night he eased us into the world of out what 1 0 to 1 9 year-olds thought about reality drama, magic with the well-known acts of his craft – his character shining through his gesticulation. Hilsum is considered one of i.e. where the characters are real people living real lives the UK’s fastest rising young magicians, and it was good to see that the old methods still have their charm. The diversity of jokes and magic encompassed in the 2 hours was exceptional. but their reality is manipulated by being in front of the camera. This research was used to write the play and I came away with the strong feeling that, if you get too big The next act was Alex The Mind Reader. Though he was impressive and entertaining, it was all a matter of volunteers writing down answers which he then pocketed. Now I don’t know how he did it, but it seemed a rather ‘one-trick pony’ for your boots you’ll lose your friends! spectacle. The comedic element really added another dimension though, despite a few slips, for instance, calling someone tone-deaf when they can play the piano – his ability proving somewhat questionable. Olivia Robinson
During the interval the music started to improve to my relief, the song ‘Jump’ envisioning for me Hugh Grant in ‘Love Actually’. A lady who looked like the Pearly Queen circulated in the audience doing magic tricks, which involved free chocolates – her name Fay Presto. She has performed for many members of the royal family, and when she took to the stage she certainly proved a royal gem. Her performance included pouring water into a folded newspaper, tearing it up into small pieces, and then unfolding the paper to reveal it intact, dripping the water out into a cup. John Archer was the last act, and was one to remember with his Hawaiian shirt, entering like a jumping penguin and playing the ukulele. He also managed to swallow a 20-inch long blown up balloon! His humour fantastically English, and he had his own lyrics to sing, for instance ‘I put my father in a liquidiserG.and now I’m drinking pop’. Overall, the show was a fantastic medley of magic, with moments of brilliance and dissatisfaction. I left the theatre with a smile on my face, my laughing having given me an abdominal workout, and tricks that have left me thinking. Consequently, it was a worthwhile show, with room for improvement in its early stages of development.
Georgia Woodroffe With thanks to:
All our wonderful young reviewers ©Richard Davenport
The festival may be over but you can remember all the action on our website www.takeoverfestival.co.uk. You can still 'like' us on Facebookwww.facebook.com/takeoverfestival Or you can follow us on Twitter @ytrtakeover1 3
Lyn Gardner of The Guardian for an inspiring reviewer's workshop All the acts and companies involved in TakeOver Festival 201 3 And the Paul Hamyln Foundation for their generous support in making TakeOver happen.