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Newbury Youth Theatre - Rainbow's Ending

19th July 2004.

The Newbury Theatre review.

As the audience filtered into the auditorium to the sound of a thumping heart beat they were greeted with a stage covered in road signs, crates, scaffolding, brightly coloured flags and other rubbish. No, Newbury local dumping site has not found a new home; it was in fact the set of Newbury Youth Theatre’s latest offering Rainbow's Ending by Noel Greig. It would seem that the company’s director, Amy Trigwell has the Midas touch and with a lively and enthusiastic cast this makes a winning combination.

Rainbow's Ending is the story of two insatiable giants who rest after devouring the world’s resources. The remaining humans struggle to survive, living off what they can – where they can. Over the centuries their fear turns to faith but right now the giants are stirring…

Rob Sherman opened the show reciting a chant with great stage presence and enthusiasm; this was chorused by the rest of the strong ensemble cast. A notable performance from Katy Hurley – whose portrayal of Rainbow showed integrity and understanding.

The technicalities had clearly been thought through, as costumes, makeup and props were effective and of a very high standard, whilst exits and entrances were spot on. The lighting was imaginative and complemented each scene perfectly, whilst an abstract choice of music brought authenticity to the piece.

There were some truly shocking scenes, including the murder of an outcast and the slaughtering of babies. These upsetting images were choreographed well and the shocked silence that swept through the auditorium was a testimony to that.

Rainbow's Ending is in many aspects political theatre and issues that are relevant today were incorporated into the piece well, for example: hunted whales, oppression of the human race, terrorism and the destruction of rainforests. The sensitive issues were softened, though not diminished by some much needed subtle humour.

The powerful ending of new life and revived hope was poignant and was executed with maturity.

I wish NYT the very best of luck at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – I know they’ll do well.


This is the Newbury Weekly News review.

So Solid Crew

Rainbow's Ending, by Newbury Youth Theatre, at The Corn Exchange on Monday, July 19

Newbury Youth Theatre is known for contemporary, issue-based productions. With Rainbow's Ending, however, which it takes to the Edinburgh Fringe next month, it has chosen a very different approach to the big questions: storytelling.

Written in the 1980s by Noël Greig, the play is a folktale for our times. The huge appetites of two voracious giants - one male and one female (after all, this is 2004) - have depleted the earth of its resources and its creatures, leaving the human inhabitants to retreat to the crumbling cities where their ancestors lived.

As time passes, the evil perpetrated by the giants becomes a thing of myth, and homage to them a religion. When the giants awake, however, their only food is human...

A challenging play was here developed into physical theatre with full-on ensemble work of verve and energy, inventive and always surprising.

Amy Trigwell, directing for the second year, is to be congratulated on a vision pursued with imagination and clarity.
Sculptor Bill Woodrow would have killed for the set: a steaming, rancid place improvised from industrial detritus, a temple to reclamation with its pallets, plastic crates, ladders, road signs and sink. At its core stood a constructivist wooden 'spire', at times internally-lit like a religious icon. A drum thrummed, the world's heartbeat.

There were painted faces, and costume of fantastic colour, similarly recycled: the Khmer Rouge collided with Lord of the Flies, circus theatre and grunge. World music - devised 'African' chants and South American sounds - emphasised the global context.

As the tribes recount their history, we are invited to think about sustainability; religious observance and its concomitant, blasphemy; conflict; our duties to each other within society (yes, it does exist); prejudice and intolerance (those experiencing the censorship of Bush's post-9/11 America added to the roll call of Jews, blacks, gays and gypsies).

The helplessness of the powerless is rammed home: things get worse before they get better, they're told.

Back comes the unanswerable riposte: tell that to Brazilian native people whose land is being pillaged; to dispossessed refugees; to whales hunted to near extinction; to the desecrated rainforests.

The paucity of leaders' ideas is exposed, yet they brutally expunge all protest. Strength lies in solidarity, a truth present generations must learn anew.

Powerful and important stuff.