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Watermill Youth Theatre - Wallride

29th October to 1st November 2003.

Here is the Newbury Weekly News review.

Talking the talk

Watermill Youth Theatre: Wallride, at the Watermill, from Tuesday, October 29 to Saturday, November 1

You have to feel sympathy for teenagers - all that insecurity and the pressure to be cool and to fit in. Nevertheless, the group of young people we saw on stage at the Watermill probably inspired some envy from their contemporaries in the audience. Not only are they developing their considerable performance skills in a real theatre, but they also have the privilege of working with a young and very talented writer and director.

Ben Myers clearly understands teenagers and in this moving, funny and believable script, he captures their concerns and their language. He brought out some fine performances from his principals, and a good sense of focus and ensemble playing from the company, apart from the tall member of Stokesy's crew whose messing around we both found distracting. They also delivered the powerful songs, by Phil White, with some excellent singing.

This group of teenagers meet on the park just to hang out, and sometimes to skate (although the ramp was very small, so all credit to Danny Goodenough who did some impressive stunts in a very confined space).

Josie Glover as Carly gave a confident, sustained performance as queen of the ramp, enduring some nasty teasing from the bitchy, insecure Daisy (Ailsa McCaughrean). Carly and Daisy's duet was one of the musical highlights. Charlotte Smith as Eliza combined sensitivity with self-assurance as the new kid on the block, and Barney Glover was great as James, the loner with the secret, gently brought out into the open by Gem, played by Stephanie Rae. His revelation about his invalid mother was a really poignant moment. James was also the key to the showdown between the bad guy, Stokesy (the mere mention of whose name caused wonderfully melodramatic looks from the cast), and Mark, (Oliver Ford-Lane) who, it turned out, had been very mean to James in the past.

We couldn't quite believe that everyone would just forget about James (and his name) so soon after the revelation, but we were completely entranced by the energy and commitment of the cast.

Congratulations to all concerned.