This is the first draft of my review. The final version can be read on Mike's blog.
Our Day Out
The People's Theatre kicked off the new season this week with an adaptation of Willy Russell's "Our Day Out". Performed by the youth theatre under the direction of Mark Buckley, this adaptation has been transferred from 70s Liverpool to 80s Newcastle. A shrewd move, saving the young cast and the audience from any dodgy scouse accents, and giving the wardrobe team plenty of scope for big hair and shoulder pads!
As expected from Willy Russell this is a play full of social commentary and humour. Can a day out from school make a difference to a bunch of kids with few or no prospects? Can the attitudes of staff towards them be changed?
A fine balance is needed between the hopelessness and the humour. Over do either and the play wouldn't work. The humour pierces the pathos of the kid's situation, and some well delivered speeches tackle the social issues of class prejudice, and academic snobbery.
There are some demanding speeches for some of the characters in this play, and they were delivered with conviction by the young actors. Notably where Miss Kay tries to convince Mr Briggs of the value of a day out for the kids who have so little else to look forward to, and when Mr Briggs persuades Carol away from the cliff.
Other performances of note are the Bored Girls - who manage to maintain their sullen bored expressions throughout, even on the rollercoaster! And the two Madonna clones, besotted with the trendy young teacher! We all knew girls like that at school!
Overall this is a fine production and an great start to the season. I look forward to seeing some of these talented young actors in future productions.