FOR the first time, York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre's 16 to 19 age group is working on a production with actors aged 65-plus from the community.

From tonight to Saturday, they will be performing the premiere of Legacy, wherein an old-school policewoman finds herself confronting a brave new digital world of corruption, murder and mistaken identity in a specially-commissioned play by Paul Birch.

Youth Theatre director Kate Veysey says: "This is the first intergenerational performance that we've created as a theatre. I'm excited about the possibilities of two age groups working alongside each other to create this thriller for the stage.

York Press:

Legacy director Kate Veysey in rehearsals

"It’s a play that is not afraid to question our blogging/vlogging/social media society where you can literally find out what a stranger had for their dinner, their political views, and even which cat videos they like."

Thanks to funding from The Clothworkers’ Foundation, this show also marks the first time the Theatre Royal Youth Theatre has had the opportunity to commission a playwright for a main-house production.

"It was a huge honour to be invited to take the devised ideas of this intergenerational cast and to shape them into a dramatic story," says Paul Birch. "The various thoughts and questions that the actors had explored raised the central question of how digital technologies inform our lives.

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Legacy writer Paul Birch

"It seemed natural, then, to look at our present with a science-fiction lens. To take the hopes, fears and concerns over privacy, identity theft and the pressure to appear to lead successful lives and form them into a chilling thriller.

"Interestingly, like much science fiction, the play ended up not simply the effect of technologies but what it means to be human, How do we spend our lives, what do we value and what will we leave behind. What is our Legacy?"

The play could not be more topical, given the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica headlines of the moment. Legacy revolves around an old-school police detective, Simone Macdonald; a rising political star, Arisha Adler, and Phillip Blackthorn, the founder of Legacy, a tech company that promises to change everything. Forever.

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Legacy cast members Noel Stabler, left, Shirley Williams, Stan Gaskill and Adam Kane

These three powerful personalities find their lives turned upside down when a boy’s body is discovered on a river bank; despite the use of new ground-breaking forensic technology there remains one problem: the boy does not exist.

As Simone investigates the most unusual case of her career, she finds herself in an increasingly unsettling world where nothing is what it seems and no-one can be trusted. The mysterious crime becomes buried in a blur of media manipulation, internet celebrity and wrapped in a box which makes anything possible.

Shirley Williams, a drama and performing arts teacher, plays the detective Simone. "She's not a straightforward sort of detective; she goes off the rails, she has mental health issues, but she's a dead straight, old-fashioned copper, who puts all her energy into holding herself together at work, which is not uncommon," she says.

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York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre's cast in the tech rehearsal for Legacy. Picture:  Shaun Conway

Among the youth theatre cast members is Adam Kane in the role of Axis, so named because he is a "YouTuber and you keep my world turning". "He's looking to push the boundaries to get views on YouTube, which can be addictive, and in this story YouTube want people to go that little bit further, to try that little bit harder," he says.

As part of their preparation for Legacy, all the cast had to find ten things about themselves circulating online. "So we all did a sheet of information about what was on Google about ourselves, sharing it all, and then discussing what we didn't realise was on there," says Kate. "It really was an eye-opener!"

Summing up the show, Adam says: "Legacy manages to say the digital world is here to stay and is essential to the way we live, but just be careful about how you use it."

York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre presents Legacy, York Theatre Royal, tonight until Saturday, 7pm plus 2pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 623568 or at Age guide: 12 plus.