Joanna Billington and Linda Bloomfield
It’s always a pleasure to watch the Young Pleasance since their reputation for producing vibrant youth theatre year after year is so impressive.
This year in #MyWay these 30 talented youngsters explore their world of social media and the effect it has on relationships.
The hero of the piece is Nathan, a stellar performance from Joe Spence, whose girlfriend has dumped him via Facebook and has sunk into a depression only to be consoled by his addiction for the world of Frank Sinatra.
His flatmates Kate (Lydia McKinley), Flo (Ella Balinska), who has a long distance relationship with her boyfriend Julio via Skype, and Megan (Phoebe McIndoe), who is a down-to-earth feminist campaigner, persuade him to take part in an open mic night at the student union.
It’s here that he meets his nemesis Alec (Luke Kock), who was the guy who had stolen his girlfriend Mia.
Also singing at the gig is Ava (Grace Holley) and Nathan becomes captivated by her voice and good looks. He briefly meets her but all he knows is her name.
The staging is impressive with projected images on a large screen as the computer graphics of Nathan’s laptop, a really clever device that is used to great effect.
What follows is a quest to find Ava but, as Nathan has given up all social media, he has to re-register with Facebook.
But, instead of the graphics being used, the actors appear on stage as the persona of Facebook dressed in white lab coats with the face of Facebook in blue trousers and tie (Marcus Kottering).
Four Avas are found but none is the right one.
His flatmates suggest he visits the geeks in the library, Jess (Louisa Doyle) and James (Cree Rose-Young), who know everything about social media and take him on a hilarious fantasy world adventure.
Still no Ava, so welcome to the world of Twitter with the Chatroom Moderator (Ollie Norton-Smith) and the popular Mindy (Charlotte Robathan), all dressed in pink, who has a troupe of “birds” all dressed in black with blue wigs and white gloves performing a Fosse routine. Wonderful stuff.
Nathan is ultimately excluded from Twitter and retreats to his Rat Pack Fans Chatroom where he feels at home with Judy Garland (Hannah Wisher), Maryln Monroe (Phoebe Campbell) and Grace Kelly (Leo Tyler), all beautifully created.
But Alec hacks into the site with disastrous consequences and Nathan eventually feels that his “social media disaster fest played out in 3D” is not as bad as he imagined.
He finds that Sinatra’s mantra that “the best revenge is massive success” works and he returns to singing.
He certainly can belt out the old crooners “That’s Life” and has the hope of contacting Ava.
This is an exuberant, high-energy, inventive production with strong ensemble performances that is totally relevant to these youngsters and is an absolute delight.
Reviewer: Robin Strapp