Roses in the Wind

Dreamarts
Cochrane Theatre
(2007)

This year's musical production from youth theatre company Dreamarts ambitiously takes political oppression as its subject. In 2½ hours, a terrifying tale is told in song, dance and words, showcasing the varied talents of the company.

To an extent, the youngsters have plumped for territory that they know well. A bunch of street kids are brought together by a dedicated teacher who tries to turn them into a theatre company producing a musical that is intended to pull a divided community together.

However, the problems of what appears to be a Muslim fundamentalist state are soon reflected in and on the kids and the play is never performed.

The company breaks up but we follow their fortunes, as a terrifying militia gains control of the country threatening not only the right to perform but, far more fundamentally, the right to live.

Within this framework, individuals are forced to work out their own issues, which soon go beyond who can sing best or even who gets the boy/girl. The central characters are Tayo Elesin's Mary and her mop-haired boyfriend Jaymin (Mohammad Elhidir).

From being putative stars, the girl attracts the attentions of the bullying militia Commander (Selom Awadzi), while her laid-back beau is eventually persuaded by the night's best singer, Maria Mengi playing Asia, that he must save his love.

Others are faced with similar dilemmas so that the self-loving Country (Ehireme Omoaka) eventually comes of age, while a teenager such as Louise (Charisse Gbebkin) becomes one of several candidates to take on the mantle of the Teacher (Timi Adeluola), who dies in the evening's most shocking scene.

Having focussed on the central characters, it is also necessary to single out Adam Lee Mroz, who in a minor role, managed to be exceedingly funny throughout the show.

The story is accompanied and advanced by ten songs, generally R&B in origin, and some really well-performed and excellently choreographed dance, which is the highlight of the evening.

It is good to see a young company take on such significant issues and the conclusions that they reach are mature and thoughtful. The early performance reviewed suffered from some technical problems with the sound system that hindered the early exposition. The script and playing also needed tightening up but, once again, Dreamarts have completed a really worthwhile project and given the team a taste of the limelight.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher