National Youth Theatre REP Company
What do Daniel Craig, Timothy Dalton, Daniel Day-Lewis, Michele Dockerty, Chiwetel Ejifor, Colin Firth, Derek Jacobi, Ben Kingsley, Helen Mirren, Michael Pennington, Rosamund Pike, Michael York and David Walliams have in common?
They and many, many others were all once members of the National Youth Theatre which was founded 50 years ago in 1965 by Michael Croft. Part of the pleasure of attending any of their public performances has always been to see if you can recognize any actors of the future.
The National Youth Theatre REP Company was launched in 2012 in response to the rising cost of formal acting training. It gives 16 young people the chance to hone their craft completely free of charge and with bursary assistance for living expenses.
Helen Mirren (who played Cleopatra in 1965 when she was 19) points out in a programme note that The NYT Rep Company “is really important at this moment in time because it’s very difficult for working class young people to get into theatre.”
The actors spend nine months on an intense industry-based programme, which culminates in a ten-week repertory season in the West End performing three plays for the general public. It’s a good accessible showcase for agents and casting directors.
The plays this year are adaptations of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights plus a new play by Evan Placey, Consensual.
The subject matter is of more interest than the heavy-handed script. A 22-year-old teacher has sex with 15-year-old pupil. He pays her what he thinks is the highest compliment: “Whenever I have a wank, I think of you.” What teacher could resist?
The question is did they have sex? She denies it. The pupil did not accuse her whilst he was still at school. He waited until six years after the event. So who is telling truth?
Lauren Lyle as the teacher is often impressive but she doesn’t look any older than Oscar Porter-Brentford who is desperately trying to act like a 15-year-old. The scene loses any shock value it might have if it is acted by both actors in their twenties.
The inaudible rap interludes don't help because they are just there to mask the unnecessary scene changes and give the cast something to do while they move the furniture.
Luke Pierre stands out from the rest in the classroom.
Reviewer: Robert Tanitch