Watermill Senior Youth Theatre - Writers' Block
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Watermill Senior Youth Theatre - Writers' Block

Writers' Block, 28th to 31st March 2012

This review is from the Newbury Weekly News.

All the write stuff

Youth theatre had firm grasp of the idea behind the script of Writers' Block

Watermill Senior Youth Theatre: Writers' Block, at The Watermill, Bagnor, from Wednesday, March 28 to Saturday, March 31

It's official - Newbury has got talent. The latest production from the Watermill's Senior Youth Theatre is a glowing testament to this as a 28 strong cast of young people between the ages of 11 and 16 performed Writers' Block with gusto.

Author Beth Flintoff says of the play that she "wanted to write something for a big cast where we could really have fun with the idea of genre", and fun they had.

The clever set by David Harris presented a split scene focus, as two writers sat in their respective parents' homes, struggling to put their ideas to paper.

As Martin (ably played by Tom Fisher) writes a Jane Austen-style regency romance, the scenes were enacted in front of us.

Feisty Marianna, a manifestation of Martin's ex-wife, resisted all attempts to marry her off; Lizzie Dunmore hamming it up admirably. Then along came Kevin Holdsworthy, a hilarious performance from Alex Lonsdale, who Marianna despised, then realised was her true love. A regency character called Kevin?

Meanwhile, Amy's imagination was churning out an all-action blockbuster with macho Tom Palatine, solidly played by William Barrett, saving a damsel in distress.

Lilli Wing captured Amy's vulnerability as she avoided any emotion in her writing while coping with her terminally-ill mother.

Each helped the other to unleash their talent and fulfil their ambitions and the twist at the end bore out Flintoff's aim to convey "the experience of writing" and "how much writers reveal of themselves".

The surreal quality of the play was underlined by Martin's mother, a suburban housewife, trying to marry her son off and always putting her foot in it, played with the right degree of fussiness by Izzy Carveth, who was revealed to be the 'real' JK Rowling.

The whole cast relished the comic elements of the play and clearly understood the idea behind the script which came across in their sparkling interpretation. A few minor first night hiccups did not take away from the assuredness of the production overall and the commitment and enthusiasm shown by everyone involved.

GERALDINE GARDNER