Monday, 24 March 2014

Review: 'Your Country Needs You..' - Dukes Young Actors & Young Company

Photo by Darren Andrews
Your country needs you
(but I don’t need my country …)

presented by The Dukes Young Actors and Young Company
directed by Louie Ingham and The Company
in The Round at The Dukes, Moor Lane, Lancaster
Tuesday 18 to Saturday 22 March 2014 at 7.30pm.
Tickets £9 (£7 conc)

In ‘Your Country Needs You (But I don’t need my country …)’ the Dukes Young Actors and Young Company has, under Louie Ingham’s energetic direction, continued the annual success of The Unsociables and, last year, Hamlet.  This timely reflection, marking the centenary of the start of World War I, intelligently and carefully explores a number of concerns about the rights and wrongs, advantages and downsides of contemporary Western culture in general and of war in particular.

Laurence Wilson, Daragh Carville, Eddie Robson and Grazyna Monvid’s well-wrought and razor-sharp text frames the political and social questions in a number of different situations.  We follow a pair of Lancashire entertainers as they land in war-torn Afghanistan, visit class 2B in the playground (learning that playground politics are no different from what passes for democracy in the Houses of Parliament), and pause to consider very recent events such as the killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby, the rising cost of our present way of life, and how war affects personal relationships.

The cast of nearly three dozen delivered, in a hectic ninety minutes, a non-stop, high-energy performance with sound and music from Mark Melville, Adam Hargreaves, Cameron Ritchie, Rob Herissone-Kelly, Luke Adams and Imogen Khan.  Louie Ingham, straight from her success with Othello in Lancaster Castle, headed the direction function she shared with the company.  Lighting designed by Brent Lees also underlined the vivid action.  Local lad Pte Joe Cluney, who also worked on Othello, contributed his military experience in Afghanistan to the choreography of the soldiers’ drill.

It’s not often one comes away from the theatre utterly exhausted and exhilarated – and not a little disoriented.  The sheer energy and vigour of the production was overwhelming: the high-speed scene changes, the feverish, highly-fuelled, intense atmosphere and visceral panache of the music made the performance a tremendous spectacle.  And there was some elegiac verse finely interspersed with the sometimes brutal, sometimes tender prose.

But above all, I think that this production’s main strength is the level to which Ingham and her team at The Dukes has exposed these youngsters, aged between 15 and 20, to an awareness of some of the most important political and social questions of our day.  This is an extraordinary achievement.

Copyright © Michael Nunn
19 March 2014

Information about the full programme of future events at the Dukes can be found online at online at:
http://www.dukes-lancaster.org or from the Box Office tel:  01524 598500.

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