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Guilt Trip (Susan Elkin reviews)

Guilt Trip
By Darren Raymond. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing
society/company: Intermission Youth Theatre
performance date: 15 Nov 2018
venue: St Saviour’s Church, Walton Place, London SW3 1SA

Intermission Theatre’s work focuses on empowering young people at risk. It’s targeted youth theatre, based at part-converted, dual-purpose St Saviour’s Church, Knightsbridge. Drawn from all over London, Intermission members, learn life changing skills through drama, mostly Shakespeare.

Guilt Trip, an imaginative show, loosely inspired by Much Ado About Nothing, is set in a hotel in Messina where a group of young women have just arrived for a “girly” holiday. Then some young men they know turn up expectedly. Devised by director, Darren Raymond and the company, it’s an ingenious way of reworking Shakespeare’s play. It uses cheerful, loud street music to cover the scene changes and some nifty solo dancing from cast members who take turns on a side stage podium. The text is Intermission’s trademark blend of Shakespeare’s language and 21st Century street-speak.

Iain Gordon is very engaging and accomplished as Claudio. He has a fine sense of comic timing and an entertaining range of facial expressions. Also strong is Sharai-Raven Mai in the Dogberry role, presented here as Head of Security complete with attitude, insouciance and malapropisms.

What this production lacks is any real sense of sparky chemistry between Beatrice and Benedick. I wasn’t remotely convinced that they were attracted to each other even as compulsive sparring partners although Jermaine Adeniregun (a notably good on-stage listener) and Andreia Chipa are each competent enough as individual actors.

There is also an audibility/projection problem. The staging for this show is end-on with the arch in front of St Saviour’s Church altar forming a quasi proscenium. Acoustics are not good and some of the sound disappears. I’m pretty sure this could have been avoided if the cast had been encouraged to slow their delivery a little – allegro rather than vivace as it were. Or maybe in-the-round staging (as for last year’s Othello-inspired Ring of Envy) is a better choice for this venue. That altar comes up trumps during the aborted wedding scene, however. The backcloth parts and hey presto we’re in a church.

First published by Sardines: http://www.sardinesmagazine.co.uk/reviews/review.php?REVIEW-Intermission%20Youth%20Theatre-Guilt%20Trip&reviewsID=3396

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Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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