Review: Pomegranate Youth Theatre’s premiere is just the tonic

Matthew Humpage, Daniel Mason, Sean Fagan, Luke Geikie.
Matthew Humpage, Daniel Mason, Sean Fagan, Luke Geikie.

Any hospital is a wellspring of stories, and rich material for theatre. The Pomegranate Youth Theatre’s summer show Cradle to Grave taps that source, with the help of members of the theatre’s playwriting group, and the result is on display at the Rose Theatre, Stainsby Festival and Hasland Village Hall this week.

All of hospital life is here in this new play, some of it set to music courtesy of Rob Laughlin. Much of it is comic, with a few poignant moments and a couple of sketches which make pointed comments about the shortage of transplant donors and NHS staff disaffection.

A & E provide the richest comic pickings, with sisters who wage war on each other with skewers, an embarrassing mum and an unexpected way of removing a saucepan stuck on a boy’s head among other treats. And a patient who suffers a heart attack is a prime candidate for CPR practice in the next sketch!

Several performers are rather older than the average PYT member. David Guy plays elderly George in his own monologue recounting his aches and pains; and Thelma Knowlson is one half of a double act lost in the endless corridors and mistaking Obstetrics for Orthopaedics. There are even a couple of delicious cameos from director Carole Copeland.

It is as ensemble as ensemble productions gets; hospitals are heavily populated, and almost everyone plays multiple roles. But I have to mention Matthew Humpage’s star turn as the Shakespeare-quoting porter who is the host for the evening; a career as a TV game show presenter beckons this talented lad.

Even the interval music fits the subject, with themes from TV hospital shows – and I think I spotted Doctor Who in there too!

It all adds up to a highly entertaining evening. Carole Copeland and her enthusiastic youngsters have a lot to be proud of.

Cradle to Grave continues tonight (Thursday, July 17), with excerpts performed at Stainsby Festival tomorrow and the whole play performed at Hasland Village Hall on Saturday.

LYNNE PATRICK