site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Watermill Youth Theatre - Landmines and Chewing Gum

20th to 23rd November 2002

This is the NWN review.

Fight for survival

'LANDMINES AND CHEWING GUM', performed by the Watermill Youth Theatre at The Watermill, from Wednesday, November 20 to Saturday, November 23

Ben Myers' new play explores the plight of refugees and asylum seekers from Kosova, desperate to escape the atrocities of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. Thousands of displaced children have lost their families and were frantic to find sanctuary in other European countries.

The audience is greeted by happy kids, enjoying life, playing games in a Kosovan village. Their innocence is soon shattered as a rebel bomb explodes, decimating their homes and the children are scattered, running to save their lives.

The action moves to England where Sarah, confidently played by Rosie McGahan is desperately seeking news of her lost brother, while trying to come to terms with her own trauma. The other children in the refugee house have to cope with typical teenage issues of love, relationships and being young, separated refugees.

David (Malcolm Ellison) befriends Sarah as she escapes to the clifftop to write her diary. Shaun (Oliver Ford-Lane) is the randy teenager always trying to 'make it' with the girl and in particular Debs (Toni Mvers).

Through the Internet Sarah discovers that Bujar, sensitively played by William Richardson, is alive and is being looked after by Albert (an accomplished performance by Tom Ross) who plans to bring him safely to England A love relationship develops through their e-mails.

However their arrival at the house does not run smoothly with tensions rapidly mounting. Shaun discovers that Albert is not only an illegal immigrant but also Serbian, the enemy. Moreover Sarah and Bujar are in fact Roma people, gypsies.

Shaun threatens to inform the authorities and so all the old prejudices are now recreated within the household who are anxious for their own survival. The 'outsiders' need to leave but where to go?

Poignantly, at the end of the play Bujar puts life into a thought-provoking perspective: "If you step on chewing gum this is a small problem, however if you step on a land mine this is a big problem."

The large cast worked well together and the chorus, in symbolic red masks, provided a strong commentary. Director Ben Myers should be pleased with his company's performance.