Review by Ken Keys for Theatreview
In the case of Everyman, performed by the Hawke’s Bay Youth Theatre, every glowing epithet is ‘on the button’: “energetic”, “visceral”, “breathless”....!
Carol-Ann Duffy’s Everyman is a complex Modern Morality Play, where a young man dies and is forced to “reckon his accounts before God (and the Devil)”. A brutal reckoning!
The result is a dystopian, apocalyptic experience that is a shattering reflection of today’s “Trumpian” world (though written long before the rise of the aforesaid Donald!). Yet the Mediaeval elements – e.g. an amazing self-flagellation scene – are very cleverly woven into the play’s fabric.
Directors Peter Cotrell and Champa Maciel have fashioned a tightly-knit, integrated Creation that combines sound, lighting, song, movement and physicality, costume and, above all, amazing acting by these young performers that is truly memorable.
Of course, it is a painful rage against pollution, Man’s ineptitude in the face of climate change and facile religious beliefs, as well as all the Seven Deadly Sins of the Mediaevals. However, while, this young team of 14 capture all the anger and frustration, they also make real the hunger for Hope in scenes that are poignant and sad, as with the old parents of Everyman – the innocent boy on the scooter.
Invidious as it may be to single any one out in such a strong ensemble piece, it is only fair to congratulate Anna Gilmore, as God, on the strength of her characterisation and mature vocal delivery. Tom Steinmann delivers a tour de force way beyond his years, as the tortured Everyman.
The Directors’ decision to include, in a Youth production, the experienced Andy Brigden as the Devil – the ‘lady in red’ (or black), cynical, mocking, controlling the hapless humans – works superbly. She anchors the drama and is a mature acting foil to the fumbling and confused humans, as played by the youthful cast.
Above all, though, it is an ensemble drama and it is glaringly obvious that months of work has gone into creating that ensemble spirit and creativity, before the script was even tackled. Every single member of the cast makes a critical contribution to a memorable piece of theatre.
A wonderful drama. A full house. And a totally engaged and enthusiastic audience!