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Watermill Youth Theatre - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

21st to 24th May 2008.

This is from the Newbury Weekly News.

Youth theatre goes where others fear to tread

The Watermill Senior Youth Theatre: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, at The Watermill, from Wednesday, May 21 to Saturday, May 24

It's quite a challenge to adapt Washington Irving's famed short story for the stage, but in his debut production for The Watermill, director Robin Belfield has achieved this with confidence and style.

Karen McKeown's atmospheric set perfectly captured the mystery of this hamlet, with silhouettes of trees, falling leaves and faces magically appearing from the forest, all beautifully lit by Dave 'Reg' Vardy.

All is not well in Sleepy Hollow, fear permeates everything and strangers are a rarity So when schoolteacher Ichabod Crane - strongly played by Nick Whitworth - arrives in the Hollow, he is treated with great suspicion and hostility. The youngsters of the village appear to be taking care of the old folk, but why is there a curfew and folk afraid of the dark?

Ichabod is threatened and bullied by Brom Bones splendidly performed by Jack Ford Lane and his gang (Samantha Grice, Rio Landbeg and Ben Tarquini). The village seemed to be trapped in the place. Ichabod is befriended by the lovely Katrina - convincingly played by Kate Stevens. He falls in love with her, but Brom turns out to be his romantic rival who wants the beautiful Katrina and her family's farm for himself. Sparks are bound to fly.

The Van Tassel family were a delight; Harriet Carter captured the character perfectly as did Geraint Landeg (Baltus) and Yasmeen Sheperia as Mrs van Tussel with excellent support from a large ensemble company.

The legend was slowly revealed when Ichabod has a dream about walking in the woods, when he hears the sound of galloping horses. He is fixed to the spot and is totally terrified as he turns round he sees the giant headless horseman. So the mystery twists and turns and in the final climatic chase scene the horse takes his revenge in a dramatically exciting conclusion.

Hauntingly compelling, well done.