Saturday, 22 April 2017

“Spine” by Clara Brennan
Djanogly Theatre, Lakeside.
Lakeside Youth Theatre complete their second day of a two day run of theatre about the friendship between an elderly widow, Glenda, and a wise-cracking and mouthy teenager, Amy.
“Spine” is the story of Amy, who suspects she might have been relegated to life’s rubbish heap, and Glenda, the old woman with whom she strikes up an unlikely friendship after looking for a place to stay after her wild teenage ways land her in trouble. The house is no standard large house but is stacked with books nicked from the dismantled local library.
This play was initially only 15 minutes long, written for Theatre Uncut, which is a movement reacting to current political events. Since that initial stage in 2012, it’s grown into a full one hour piece of political theatre.
It’s not a play that I’d heard of before but being an avid reader of books, this immediately struck a chord with me, and immediately sympathised with Glenda's plight.
Amy is definitely not vocally challenged and soon becomes a bit of a hero for venting her opinions, gaining the respect of Glenda, as well I imagine from the members of the audience.
The play is often presented as a monologue but here it's an ensemble piece with seven actors playing Amy with eleven other actors playing various roles as the ensemble.
Amy's social situation isn't an uncommon one sadly but by her gaining a friend in Glenda, she manages to extract herself from the circle of so called friends that were
bringing her down and we see the start of the turnaround at the end.
The relationship between the wayward and the widow is completely believable, after all they do say that opposites attract, and in this case that was so true.
A talented group of actors keep the vibrancy of the piece going. There's some very blue language used but not gratuitously. there's also a lot of comedy as well. The story of how Glenda's husband passed away is comedy gold, bordering on farce.
A busy set which had many places for your eyes to focus on was designed by Rachael Jacks..
It's a fast moving story and Director Loreto Murray and assistant Director, Ellie Woodhead, kept the impetus going throughout the 65 minute piece of theatre.
Also keeping it rolling on at a nice pace was the lighting, designed by Richard Statham, and a brilliant indie style soundtrack featuring among the tracks, classics from The Killers and The La's.
With talent of this calibre from the Youth Group, I'll be interested to see what they produce when they progress onward, away from Youth Theatre.
An exciting and interesting piece of theatre.

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