Devisers: The Young Everyman Team and their mentors
Directors: Nicole Behan, Matt Rutter and Chris Tomlinson
Reviewer: Jamie Gaskin
The Young Everyman Playhouse (YEP) team is well-known for its large-scale productions, so,devising a piece which, by its very title Crowd, requires plenty of people is a good choice. The show was devised by the team and developed with the actors and their mentors. It has the sub-title of Three Stories from a Dark Future.
However, its narrative is much more about crowd control and enslaving a nation. It is billed as a show that tackles difficult themes and imagines how things could end up if not checked. But it has nasty taste of some things already not being checked, certainly not in every nation. The set, designed by Blue Bradfield and Aimee Berende, was well-considered allowing fluent movements through the action.
It plods the well-known path of “Big Brother” with its intrusive and invasive surveillance. It’s chosen state outlaws gays and ruthlessly enforces a maximum of two children per family. The Crowd are kept quiet on a diet of happy pills and jollied along by a low-brow pop music station whose shows are laced with propaganda. With a nod to the Nazi Germany they even give lists on the radio of dissenters they wanted.
Over 40 youngsters graced the stage. The use of verse for much of the performance was particularly effective and cleverly written. While the stage direction is crisp and the choreographing of the crowds well-paced some of the doubtless gems of dialogue are lost through additional background sound and casual diction. Those actors lucky enough to be chosen for the longer soliloquies and individual character pieces proved they were worthy of selection with some excellent stage presence.
The two sycophantic DJs were great fun and the sainted leader of “Our Country”, who had obviously switched one bad elite for his own, was convincingly sinister. The production’s strength lies in the staging of the hovering “holier-than-thou” crowds whose collective defence of the state is clearly rooted in fear.
This absurd situation throws up its own quite comic absurdities: A gay couple whose love flourishes in the confines of a photo-copying cupboard. And a taxi-driver willing to turn a blind eye provided he can keep the meter running neatly reminds us how corruption flourishes in such a poisonous atmosphere.
A showcase of promising talent. Why not join the Crowd?
Runs until March 2 2019 | Image: Brian Roberts