Seconds Out Youth Theatre
This production and Seconds Out Youth Theatre are part of a longer project organised by Newcastle Theatre Royal which brings together sport, and particularly boxing, and culture. Standing Count is based on creative writing from disadvantaged young people which has been turned into a play devised by the company and scripted by Laurence Sach, who also directs.
It tells the story of young boxer Kenny Hardwick from the age of 12 to 18. It starts with his being bullied and is introduced to boxing by his father, who had been a boxer in his youth, and in the course of the play he experiences parental arguments and break-up, boy/girl relationships, pressure to go to university, revelations about his father, the death of his mother and almost every kind of teenage angst you can imagine, before becoming a successful boxer.
It is entirely predictable and has the feel of a Theatre in Education piece. Structurally it uses short scenes interspersed with narration, mainly by the owner of the gym at which Kenny trains. The problem with this structure is that the dramatic tension built up in the scenes is dissipated by the narration and the performers have to work doubly hard to build it again.
The performers cannot be faulted. They have worked with a boxing coach and young amateur boxers in preparation for the show and it shows, both in the scenes of training and especially in the bouts which are played out on stage.
It's an enjoyable piece but one cannot but think that it could have been so much better had the writing been sharper and less dependent on narration.
Reviewer: Peter Lathan