Tag Archives: Theatre

Review: Influence (Theatre Royal Young Company)

By Megan Potterton

The Theatre Royal Young Company return with their latest production this week. Influence is on at The Drum theatre from Wednesday 21st – Saturday 24th August, and is yet another amazing example of the exceptional talent that this young theatre company brings to the stage.

Influence, written by Andy McGregor, is thought provoking, entertaining, funny and at times frightening, and the Young Company have done an amazing job at bringing its characters to life.

The play follows a group of young people who ‘enter a world of illegal data collecting and mind manipulation’ when a local boy goes missing. I will not reveal too much of the plot, as the twists, turns and shock factor of the play truly make it what it is, however the play revolves around technology, adventure, and everything not being as it seems. The writers of Influence have taken inspiration from the likes of Stranger Things, Black Mirror and The Matrix (we were given blue and red ‘pills’/Tic Tacs on our way into the auditorium) to create a story that you can’t help but be drawn into from the very moment the play opens.

Of course, it was not only the play’s plot that captured the audience’s attention on opening night. The company (consisting of a principal cast aged between 14 and 17 years old) immediately brought the play to life with their powerful dialogue and synchronised movements. They created believable and memorable characters and worked incredibly well alongside each other. Each member of the cast was engaging and energetic, adding to the plot with every interaction and facial expression made.

You could certainly feel the energy and excitement of opening night emanate from the cast. Notable performances were given from the young actresses who played Bobby Raferty and Marj Ainsworth, both of whom portrayed interesting and complex characters with what seemed like ease.

The direction, choreography, lighting and sound of this production are also impressive, and definitely play a part in creating a production that leaves such a lasting impact.

Influence is on at The Drum at the Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday 24th August. You can buy your tickets here: https://theatreroyal.com/whats-on/influence/#book

Kinky Boots Review: Giving Toxic Masculinity the Boot

By Keiran Potter

A story about family ties and the bounds of friendship, Kinky boots is a fun but moving celebration of humanity. It succeeds in challenging the idea of what it means to be a man, in a world smothered with toxic masculinity. 

A story revolving around a young man inheriting his family business didn’t initially excite the musical theatre geek inside of me. Especially when 1000 pairs of boring brogues are introduced as a plot device. 

However, despite having very little knowledge of the show before attending. I truly loved this musical. It’s silly and fun, yet carries a real message, as great pieces of art often do. It is a political presentation of the working class and the impacts of capitalism and gentrification. More importantly,  it is a touching reflection on masculinity and powerful females, and how humans don’t have to fit into the cookie cutter mould of expectations. Kinky Boots states how the act of accepting people for who they are, is the real key to what makes a man. 

My favourite character was undeniably Lola, the real heart of the show and bringing tears of laughter and of sadness on numerous occasions, portrayed by the talented Kayi Ushe. Lola enters the humdrum city of Nottingham and injects it with her fabulosity. She makes unconventional friendships along the way, allowing the audience to learn the importance of acceptance at the same time as the characters do.

Her presence highlights the power of a pair of heels and passion. The character separates gender from sexuality and shows that all you need is some glitter and determination in order to turn a dream into a future for yourself and those around you. 

The entire cast were excellent, taking you on a real journey with each of their characters. Joel Harper-Jackson, as troubled protagonist Charlie, also deserves a special mention.  At its heart, Kinky Boots is a story about two very different men who realise that, beneath their exterior, they’re made of the same stuff. 

I don’t want to give too much away. But I will say, what an amazing message to share with numerous generations. I couldn’t help but notice the crowd predominantly full of elderly people. To see them laughing along with the numerous drag queens on stage was quite beautiful, an unfamiliar yet stunning dichotomy. 

Looking around further though, I did notice that a lot of the seats were empty. This confused me, as the show progressed and got better and better, with an unmissable moral message. Unfortunately there were just not enough people around to see it. 

I do hope that this was a coincidence and just a quiet night, as I’d hate to think it is the presentation of the characters and subject matter; of drag and breaking down gender barriers, that could have stopped anyone from experiencing this eye opening show for themselves. 

Kinky Boots was on at the Theatre Royal Plymouth from Monday 8th – Saturday 20th July.

Review: CITIZEN (Theatre Royal People’s Company)

By Katie Stote

Love, loss, overcoming addiction and homelessness; these are just some of the hard-hitting stories which are bravely performed by the wonderful cast of CITIZEN.

The city can often feel like an incredibly lonely and isolating place. Amongst waves of anonymous faces, ears blocked with headphones, eyes to the ground and a constant stream of traffic fighting through never-ending roadworks, it’s easy to feel there is no time for human connection, community or personality. Therefore, a production such as CITIZEN could not be more needed or appreciated.

An honest and vulnerable production celebrating community, identity and the scars who make us who we are, CITIZEN is built upon real stories which happened to real people. Those people? It’s very own cast. The unorthodox structure of CITIZEN is the very embodiment of the unique and unexpected journeys taken by each member of the cast, which they courageously share with their audience.

From students to veterans, volunteers to pharmacists, the diverse cast are a representation of the people who make up the community of Plymouth. One member of the cast I even recognised as a barista at the local Costa. This was a simple but powerful reminder, which is at the very heart of CITIZEN, that even the people we see as strangers, the person behind the counter, the faces we walk past in the high street, carry stories and have lived through journeys we could never imagine.

The Theatre Royal People’s Company production opens with a passionate song and throughout the show are real statistics about the people of Plymouth. Some made the audience burst with laughter, others created thoughtful silence. The cast guided us through their stories with grace and creativity, often breaking the barrier between the stage and the audience, creating brilliant moments of laughter and reaffirming the meaningful human connection the production celebrates and encourages.

The free programme each member of the audience is given upon arrival includes a note from the director, Lucy Hirst, within which she says:

We knew we wanted to experiment with creating work in a different way, and that we wanted to do so with faces that really lived and breathed our city. We built foundations from authenticity, and called for bravery from the get-go.

Well, I can honestly say, and I’m sure anyone who is lucky enough to be in the audience of CITIZEN over the upcoming days will agree, they have achieved and exceeded their goal. CITIZEN is an incredible, uplifting and life-affirming celebration of the beauty that can be discovered in the diversity of our city.

The bravery of the cast, standing before a room of strangers and opening themselves up to vulnerability, each telling their story of what connects them to Plymouth, is beyond inspiring. Most importantly, CITIZEN is a compelling reminder that we are all a part of something bigger. We have all felt alone, happy, loved, anxious, excited and a whole other mix of emotions at some point in this city, just as we have all walked these streets and lived our lives here. To quote the opening song, ‘we are Plymouth’.

The Theatre Royal Plymouth People’s Company are performing CITIZEN in The Drum on Thursday 4th and Saturday 6th July. Find out more about the production here: www.theatreroyal.com/whats-on/2019/citizen