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Watermill Senior Youth Theatre - Moonfleet

3rd to 6th March 2019

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

'True adventure'

...told by an exuberant ensemble of talented young actors

Watermill Senior Youth Theatre: Moonfleet, at The Watermill, Bagnor, from Wednesday, March 3 to Saturday, March 6

The Watermill's Senior Youth Theatre's production of Moonfleet has been skilfully adapted from James Meade Falkner's novel by the Watermill's playwright in residence Danielle Pearson.

This is a gripping story full of jugglers, ghosts, haunted crypts and hidden treasure. A true adventure tale, told with commitment and exuberance by this huge cast of talented youngsters.

It is set in the fictional village of Moonfleet, on the Dorset coast, where the inhabitants, the Mohunes, retell stories of ghosts and spirits from the past.

Isobel Nicolson's atmospheric set cleverly conjures up both the rigging and sail of a boat and the whole village. The costumes are simply superb, with the Mohunes all dark and feral.

Fourteen-year-old John Trenchard (Luke Parsons) lives with his religious maiden aunt Jane (Eleanor Winchester), but can no longer cope with the strict regime she imposes, so he seeks solace and independence, staying with Elzevir Block (Frank Smith) the landlord of the Why Not Inn and is befriended by the sexton, Mr Ratsey (Isabelle Moore).

John falls in love with Grace (Nina Faithfull), daughter of the cruel magistrate Maskew (Asher Dunnett), who killed Block's son during a raid on the smugglers. The rivalry been them is intense.

John's fascination about the legend of Bluebeard, who had allegedly stolen a large diamond from Charles I, sends him on a quest to find it.

When the village is flooded in a huge storm, the villagers hear a clashing of coffins in the crypt and brave John investigates, discovering it is being used as a smugglers' den.

He becomes trapped in the burial chamber and finds a locket that contains clues to where the diamond is hidden, so the hunt to find it begins.

What follows is a rollercoaster ride, with plot-twists and turns, involving him in receiving a prison sentence, a shipwreck, cliff rescue and eventually a happy, moral ending.

The large ensemble (too many to mention by name) performed with energy creating many magical moments. The creation of the cliff using ropes was really impressive and the use of shadow puppets and projection was most effective.

Inventively directed by Heidi Bird, with atmospheric lighting by Lawrence T Doyle, this was a thoroughly enjoyable performance and all the cast are to be congratulated on their fine achievement in this ambitious production.