Review: Pomegranate Youth Theatre packs a lot into showcase

Chesterfield Pomegranate Theatre.
Chesterfield Pomegranate Theatre.

Showcases by Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Youth Theatre prove the future of entertainment is in safe hands.

Where else could you see A Midsummer Night’s Dream condensed and modernised to include Facebook, a selfie and expressions of OMG and tote? Who else would be bold enough to attempt to deliver five scenes from Romeo and Juliet at breakneck speed in as many different genres?

And which company would be able to premiere excerpts from not just one, but two, new plays which challenge performers and viewers to think about the impact that history has had upon their lives?

Parents and friends saw all this and more as they crowded into the Pomegranate theatre on Sunday night for the History-onics Regenerated production packed with drama, improvisation and story-telling.

A dramatic re-enactment of the torpedoing of the Lusitania launched an excerpt from the World War One drama Hidden Strangers, written by Louise Page and directed by Carole Copeland. Powerful and moving, it detailed the destinations of passengers aboard the stricken vessel, from those who managed to board the lifeboats to those who were lost at sea. It also flagged up how English townsfolk turned on aliens, in this case Gerrmans, living in their community and the later appearance of mobile phones signalled that prejudice is still rife 100 years on.

Another important development in history was charted in Cradle to Grave, a look at the development of the National Health Service. Bizarre A&E cases such as a woman getting her hand stuck in a flower vase, a lad with a saucepan on his head and a girl with a skewer through her finger brought shades of light relief amid cleverly researched and well performed historical and medical scenes. Created and directed by Carole Copeland, Cradle to the Grave is due to be performed in its entirety next month.

Performers were forced to think on their feet, literally, in a series of improvised sketches involving company members having to act out various jobs and assume the mannerisms of party guests. An interpretation of a classic work was among the highlights when Ryan Mitchell and Dylan Howells brought comedy to Shakesepare’s famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet.

The first half was under the direction of Katy Dent, assisted by Emma Jones and Amy Burton. Launched by the youngest members of the group performers treated the audience to their interpretations of a couple of stories including The Emperor’s New Clothes.

The aforementioned shrunk-down, jazzed-up A Midsummer NIght’s Dream was the jam in the middle. This excellent display of teamwork was entertaining, engaging and one of the best interpretations of Shakespeare’s comedy I have seen.

Excerpts from Teechers by John Godber closed the first half and it was good to see age-appropriate performers playing pupils.. However, a few more lessons in voice projection wouldn’t have gone amiss as it was occasionally difficult to catch some of the lines.

In a dozen or so years, this company has grown from 14 members to 90 - long may the Pomegranate Youth Theatre continue to go from strength to strength.