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April 2006

‘Such confidence and skill…’

Editor of The Post newspaper, Barry Kirk reviews a performance of Barking & Dagenham Youth Theatre’s production of Seven at the Broadway Theatre…

Seven deadly sins of youth

The seven sins is an interesting title for any playwright to get his pen round, and even more so when created from the thought processes of young people. The task so faced Andy Rogers when he took on the writing and co-directing role, along with Natalie Smith, for the Barking & Dagenham Youth Theatre, under the umbrella of Arc Theatre, a specialist educational theatrical company based in the borough.

This was the fourth production of the youth company, aged between 11 and 19 years, and the result of a series of workshops held by the Council-supported Arc, at its Ripple Road centre.

Andy said: “It was fascinating stuff. All of the ideas and characterisations came from the young players and I wrote the dialogue round their deliberations.”

The workshops held at the end of last year, with the theme of deadly sins, gave the 30-plus players the chance to create their own storyline relating to a particular sin.

For three nights last week, the team played before audiences of their peers as well as proud parents at the Broadway Theatre, Barking, and I have to say they gave a thoroughly solid and confident performance.

Of the sins, Pride, Wrath, Lust, Greed, Sloth, Envy and Gluttony, the players came up with an interesting mix of actions from their young minds. Particularly good was Gluttony played by Karis Braithwaite, Chloe Butler, Omari Isaac, Laura Musguin, Sarah Price, Chloe Smith and Alex Tucker. It was based round a tongue-in-cheek weight-watchers class, but preached not eating as a way to weight loss.

Another interesting and thought-provoking playlet was under Envy with Ruth Jacob, Tessa Kerslake, Katie Snooks and Alex Tucker. Three sisters arguing at the graveside of their father brought a surprising twist.

As a night’s entertainment it was enjoyable, particularly seeing the young players acting with such confidence and skill in something they had created.

The youth company meet regularly and are always interested in meeting new recruits. Looking at the quality of the show, it was easy to see that a lot of extremely hard work had gone into this production which was summed up by Andy in his programme notes. He said: “All of the young people involved in this year’s production have demonstrated a committed and professional approach to the work and our weekly rehearsals. It may be a sin, but Natalie and I are very proud of what the team have achieved.”

Other players were Emma Attwood, Beccy Challis, Nicholas Irving, Glen Joyce, Amit Singh, Hollie Walker, Laura Briden, Louis Henderson, Becky Snooks, Danielle Stevenson-Hanns, Kylie Swan, Amy Henderson, Anil Sivarajah, Robert Storey, Shaun Alexander, Katie Allen, Laura Besly, James Kennedy and Ella O’Connell.

Barry Kirk – Editor, The Barking & Dagenham Post newspaper, Wednesday 5 April 2006