Saturday, March 31, 2007

"When A Star Falls" - March 2007

We've seen so many shows by the Scottish Youth Theatre over the years (going back as far as "John Paul Jones" and "Into the Woods" long before their shiny new home in Brunswick Street) and we've grown to have very high expectations. However, most of our SYT experience has been of the Summer Festival shows with large casts so it was quite a change to see this pared down production with an on stage cast of only six.

The play is set at the Antonine Wall with a group of young people gathered to watch a meteor shower but it's clear from the beginning that this group come from very different social and geographical backgrounds and isn't a cosy group of friends. Each have their own agendas, prejudices and secrets - some will be revealed, others only hinted at. It's well written with snappy dialogue and makes some very effective points about national identity and how we treat "incomers" of all varieties. Although the show worked well, I'm not sure if the points wouldn't have been better served without the alien plot and removing it would have made the whole show more grounded. The ending also left a little to be desired - but that's probably due to me preferring "certainty to truth" as the play puts it.

Performances from the cast were all of a high standard but possibly because it was a matinee or because it wasn't quite a full house, there wasn't quite the sparkle of the great performances I'm sure these guys can deliver. And I can say that with certainty as we were delighted to see Katrina Innes performing as "BB" - she absolutely blew us away a few years ago in her role as Mrs Lovett in the SYT's "Sweeney Todd" and that performance still ranks as one of the best we have ever seen in the Citizens Circle studio. Innes and Ruaridh Caddell as "Evan" had the additional baggage of having to carry off foreign accents but held them well throughout and after a quiet first half Innes does get the chance to shine in the later stages of the play. Ashleigh Kate Wilson as "Vonnie" provides comic relief that doesn't seem out of place although while her timing is good some of the gags are a little poor (meters/meteors).

The show makes good use of both music and of an on-screen chorus and with a running time of 85 minutes must be exhausting for a cast who are almost constantly on stage. "When a Star Falls" raises interesting ideas in an entertaining and enjoyable way, but I think next time we might skip the matinee as I think the energy levels did suffer for it.