Live Witness

Created and directed by Annie Rigby and Amy Golding

Live Theatre, Newcastle

From 14 May 2013 to 25 May 2013

Review by Peter Lathan

Live Witness is a celebration of Live Theatre’s 40th birthday, a promenade performance which takes the audience from the public areas through the dressing rooms to the stage and outside to the hidden courtyard where the newly refurbished Schoolhouse is ready to take in its complement of creative businesses. It is filled with reminiscences of events, serious and funny, which took place across those forty years, some told second-hand, some recorded by those involved and some recounted in person.

We are met a very familiar figure to anyone who has been to the theatre in the last ten years or so, the tall welcoming figure of Deputy House Manager Michael Davies who greets us and gives us a brief history of the building and then we are split into four groups, each being taken to a dressing room where we meet an actor who has performed at Live and who regales us with stories of his/her experience of the place. They are Jane Holman, Zoe Lambert, Gary Kitching and Abigail Moffatt.

Then it’s off to the stage where we sit and listen to a wider range of memories, after which we’re taken outside for the finale—which I won’t reveal here.

Linking the whole thing together is a chorus of “Mischief Makers”, young people from the Live Youth Theatre who act as guides—and who occasionally do make a bit of mischief!

To be honest, I’m not sure that I am the right person to review this show. I’ve known Live since the beginning and so many of my friends and colleagues—some, alas, no longer with us—have been involved there. For me it was a trip of mingled happiness and sadness down memory lane: the mention of a friend and colleague who died suddenly far too young; a funny story which just summed up another. I loved it. But would it have much meaning for someone who hadn’t this background?

In fact, according to my companion who’s only 26 and whose only experience of the place is as an audience member, yes, it was enjoyable and interesting, so all credit to Annie Rigby and Amy Golding for creating a piece of memory-based theatre which appeals to a wide range of people and gives us a fascinating insight into the history of an iconic North East theatre.