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New Era Players - Second Person Narrative

6th to 8th September and 11th to 15th September 2018

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

The story of You in 30 scenes

New Era's enterprising cast and director rise to the challenge in an impressive Second Person Narrative

New Era Players: Second Person Narrative, at New Era Theatre, Wash Common, from September 6-8 and 11-15

There has been much discussion in the theatrical press recently about the lack of opportunities for female actors, writers and directors. Some progress in redressing this gender balance is happening with gender-neutral casting and all-female productions.

So it was refreshing to see Jemma Kennedy's Second Person Narrative, which captures fragments of a single character's life and is written specifically for a predominantly female cast.

It is an intriguing play that follows the life of' 'You' in 30 short scenes, from birth, through her childhood and teenage years, into adulthood and finally old age and inevitably death and rebirth.

The role of 'You' is shared by four actors of different ages. Izzy Goldsmith plays 'Child You', discovering childhood and testing the barriers. The petulant and feisty 'Young You', perfectly captured by Ellen Spillane, is filled with teenage angst as she grows up, trying to find her identity and place in society.

Vicky Goldsmith plays the central character 'You' with an honesty and sincerity as she journeys through the trials and tribulations of her family life.

There is a large ensemble (Gareth Croft, Pippa Higgins, Suzanne Hudson, Rachel Potter and Sarah Russell) who play doctors, teachers, friends and the voice of her conscience, ever present and guiding her through life through a series of carefully constructed cameos.

Sally Scrivener brings a sensitive yet defiant performance as the 'Senior You', determined to make the best of her remaining years.

'You' also encounters a few men in her life, strongly played by Neil Dewdney, David Tute and Keith Philips.

The themes of family, work, pressures, love and relationships are all there and it is a story with which the audience will be able to empathise.

There is much to enjoy in this production, lots of humour, particularly in the scene where the cast, as young children, posed for the school photographer and shared their hopes and ambitions for the future.

The simple set makes key use of props which chart You's journey, that are hung on the back wall as a reminder of the stages of her life. Each scene ends in a flash photograph and the period choice of music works very well.

Skilfully and imaginatively directed by Andy Kempe, this challenging and much-enjoyable play was moving and impressive.