Saturday 22 June 1985

One Act Double-Bill


Last winter a new drama group was formed in Warminster with the intention of providing opportunities for young people to learn about and enjoy various aspects of stage-craft and to produce themselves three or four theatre shows a year.

They called themselves the Athenaeum Youth Theatre, and from Thursday 13th June to Saturday 15th June 1985 they made their debut at Warminster Arts Centre, when they dished up two comical helpings in the form of a One Act Double-Bill.

The plots of each are not really relevant. What is important is how well or otherwise the group managed to deal with the material. On the whole they did very well, and there were some moments and performances that were very good indeed.

Dean Lawrie, Marcus Tilt, and Neil Grant, in Robert King's Red Spy At Night were all worthy of note and on the technical side one must mention the excellent sound and lighting effects that opened this spoof-thriller.

Undoubtedly though, the highlights of the evening were two performances in the second of the two plays, Ladies, This Is War by Anthony Booth. Nadine Rack's Lady Alicia Smythe was splendidly ghastly; voice, face and gestures all quite in character and not at all overdone. Lucy Toomey's petty Elaine was a delight; a comical, quaint impersonation right down to her feet (particularly her feet - what a lovely, tripping, little walk).

There were some conspicuous faults as well. In the first piece some unfortunate masking - that is, players standing too close or in front of each other. And on occasions in both plays the elocution was not what it might have been - a line lost in an accent or unheard as a player left the stage. These are important considerations, but errors few enough on the Friday night to allow for a very worthwhile and entertaining show.

What a pity then that so few people ventured out to give them a try, twenty-eight being the most that bothered in one evening. Remember that this is only the beginning. There are already plans for a musical in January. This youth theatre has really got something, so let's hope that by that time they can reckon a rather more encouraging response to their efforts.