Review Bassett by The King’s Company in the Hayward Theatre Ely Wednesday 9th March 2011

Two very appropriate plays were chosen for this fine company of young players to perform in the Hayward Theatre recently:

Bassett is a play by James Graham set in the now Royal village of Wootton Bassett, known for its support of our fallen heroes from the Afghanistan war and For We Are Many which was also about war in the form of an adaptation of the ancient Greek tale of the fate of women in the Fall of Troy.

The actors gave confident and often spirited performances that were credible and entertaining.

In Bassett a group of teenagers locked in a classroom over the dinner break create and develop their own tensions and battles. The funeral procession of a fallen hero from Afghanistan in town and his connections with the youngsters brings home to them the realism of war, its provocation and its effects.

Leo (played by Rob Archer) was an impressive lead character who finally flipped as the classroom tensions finally came to a head. Graeme (Tony Lesmeister) stuttered magnificently, his awkward movements and tentative suggestions creating an unmistakable classroom nerd who changed from a nonentity to a hero when he used his laptop and the class DVD projector to display the all-important funeral procession. Another fine portrayal was Alec Prieto’s ‘Spencer’ whose sense of justice and the right thing to do gave him courage to stand up to the bullying Leop and become a hero himself. The backchat of the girls and the awkwardness of the adolescent boys brought alive a host of other excellent characterizations: Dean (Zach Binge), Shanti Sally Cheng), Kelly (Bryony Ding), Joanne (Megan Gilligan), Aimee (Johanna Going), Russell (Toby Hill), Lucy (Tegan Howlett), Jonathan (Matthew Levy), Zoe (Tori McIrvine) Rachel (Yaya McIrvine) and Amid (Dean Tarrant Raja).

In For We Are Many cohesive choruses underpinned moments of dramatic and sometimes gruesome reality that occurred after an ignominious defeat in war. The plight of women and children in wars was brought home with some vigour and sincerity by the performers. The main characters were: Hecuba (played by Emma Jones), Andromache (Bea White), Cassandra (Darcie Casey), Chorus leaders Ruth Scott and Natalie Yeung, Athene (Jack Spoor), Poseidon (Rowland Daniel), Tal (Rory McCorquodale) and their performances were enhanced by vital contributions from the chorus and soldiers.

Bassett was part of the National Theatre’s New Connections Festival which encourages the involvement of young people in theatre, on and off stage. The King’s Company will be taking Bassett to the Norwich Playhouse on Wednesday 4th May as part of the Regional Connections Festival. Mr. Luke Kernaghan, the National Theatre’s Connections director for this region, attended the first night of the King’s Company performances and gave the cast feedback afterwards.

A forthcoming event well worth attending will be a visit by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men presenting A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the King’s School Ely on Tuesday 24th May.

Contact: 01353 653939 adellac@kings-ely.cambs.sch.uk

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