Review: York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre 16 Plus, The Crescent, at The Crescent, York, January 18 and 19

YORK Theatre Royal Youth Theatre’s 16 Plus group broke new ground when devising a site-specific production for the first time.

Working in tandem with York dramaturg and Say Owt performance poet Henry Raby, two groups made two shows, both inspired by The Crescent, the working men’s club that has been transformed latterly into a community venue for live music, comedy and now theatre.

Under the direction of education associate Julian Ollive, Project M’s cast of 20 staged a show on the main stage, one that combined stories from The Crescent’s past and present, tied together by the eloquent narration of golden-voiced Stan Gaskell.

York Press:

Milly Howard as the the jazz singer and tarot card reader in The Crescent. Picture: Shaun Conway

“I think it’s important to show both the good things and the bad things about a place and how it has changed,” Gaskell had said before the performances, in reference to how long it took for women to establish voting rights and membership at The Crescent.

This slow progress towards change was enacted in four scenes, while other vignettes in this lively, entertaining ensemble piece caught the flavour of why music is so important to people’s lives, especially young people’s lives, and why a sense of community is vital too.

YTR Youth Theatre director Kate Veysey’s Project N cast of 17 took a different course, presenting a promenade production that moved from room to room and set the actors the challenge of weaving their performance in and out of the audience, starting a new scene by becoming the centre of attention.

York Press:

Theo Steele as the croaky karaoke singer in The Crescent

This was a new challenge welcomed by the performers, and the likes of love-lorn Adam Kane and tarot card-reading mystery woman and nightclub jazz singer Milly Howard responded particularly well.

One story, involving four members of a band gaining places at the same music college and the fifth not doing so, was particularly resonant, while Maddie Woods’s Janice the cleaner provided moments of comedy, and the crowded ladies’ loo cubicle scene was a novel first for your veteran reviewer.