KYDS Youth Drama Society – Remembrance Performed at Tiptree Community Centre on 19th Sep 2014

Director – James Stocker

In this time of remembrance of World War I KYDS Youth Drama Group have produced for the local community an entertaining evening consisting of a one act play called ‘Remembranceby Mark Rees, a singalong of first world war songs, followed by a short comedy sketch called The Hero’s Return. James Stocker, a young, talented up-and-coming director, has chosen a very poignant one act play which is the first drama he has directed. It tells of the doomed young love of Emily Sophie Stocker; and Tom Peter Greenwood. Peer pressure from the young boys around him makes him enlist in the army, to go off to fight in the war, even though they are all under age. When the war was over it became known that over quarter of a million under-age boys died. It is suggested that the government of the time was well aware of this.

This is the first time that KYDS have been at the new Tiptree Community Centre and full marks for making a stage with thrust and excellent flats upstage and on the wings.
These were painted with a park scene and a bandstand. Grass covered the front of the flats and the up-stage area which gave depth to the scene. There were some issues with the lighting, particularly with a lack of balance across the rig, however it was understood that the dimmer pack had a problem which led to the loss of some lighting fixtures. At the same time the show had very limited access to rig the lighting. Nonetheless, with limited facilities the technical team did a good job.

There was excellent acting by Sophie Stocker as Emily. This young lady has a great talent and I do hope that she continues to do more as she certainly held the stage with her performance. This production was also a family affair as Sophie’s other brother Andrew was in the production. Andrew had good projection as the leader of the gang but maybe could learn not to use his hands so much in pantostyle! Their mother made the excellent dresses for the two girls. Becky Wright as Maggie, the young adolescent so interested in what it was to be in love, was charming and it was great fun to see the kissing scene with John played confidently by Ben Collins. His expression during the kiss was priceless! There was lovely team work from the young school children, who were bent on bullying Emily and a quiet, understated, eloquent performance by Peter as the ill- fated Tom who was shot by his own side due to the accusation of cowardice at the front. Roger Lyons and Ray Banks, as Sir Arthur Markham and Mr Tennant respectively, were both able in their respective roles even if first night nerves crept in a bit at the beginning for Roger.

The second half of the evening consisted of a sing-along with the audience and then a duo by two pretty, talented singers, Abigail Morgan and Daisy Greenwood, performing ‘Somewhere only we know’. To end the evening a small sketch was presented, narrated by Ray Banks. This was highly amusing as it was done in mime by the three actors, Jon Beales, Bradley Cole and Alice Mason. A great finish to the evening. Well done KYDS you worked very hard and the evening was a great success. We hope you continue to try out more drama during your season.

Reviewer- Christine Davidson
Deputising in District 8, NODA East

North Essex Theatre Guild

KYDS

Remembrance

20th September 2014

 

Front of House

As always at KYDS, I received a very warm and friendly greeting and was shown to my seat. The raffle ticket seller wasn’t at all phased by my only having a £20 note and was pleasant and chatty. The programme was well laid out, with cast biographies, rehearsal photos, information about the group and about the charity Help for Heroes. Money raised from the programme sales, refreshments and donations would be given to the charity.

Set

The small stage had a slope at the back covered in fake grass and the nicely painted set behind conveyed a pleasant park scene, with blue sky, greenery and a bandstand in the centre. The iconic Kitchener poster was displayed to one side, a stark reminder that despite the idyllic scene portrayed, young men were being encouraged to fight for their King and Country.

Sound and Lighting

During the play, the lighting was simple but effective. The sound effects were on time and very effective. There were the chattering, mumbling sounds of Parliament in session and some beautiful birdsong which quietly carried on throughout the park scenes so much better than switching the sound off once the dialogue starts. That always jars and is very noticeable. A lovely piece of music was played to open the show and set the scene. “Perfect Day”, lilting, gentle – a perfect choice.

Costumes

The two girls’ dresses looked perfect for the period and the rest of the cast wore white shirts and dark trousers.

Emily. Sophie Stocker

This was a very good performance. Sophie has a lovely speaking voice and managed the various emotions well, conveying exasperation with her young companion and her constant questions. She had a slightly superior manner, which was totally believable and she and Becky appeared very natural together. Her relationship with Tom had a certain innocence and she argued her case against underage boys enlisting with passion. Her distress as the other youngsters taunted her was very moving. A mature and well-rounded performance. Well done.

Maggie. Becky Wright

Maggie is the younger of the two girls and Becky played the part to perfection. This was a natural performance with all the girlish innocence needed. There was an easy rapport between her and Emily.

Billy. Andrew Stocker

Billy is a natural leader, bossy and sneering. Andrew played this role with enthusiasm and had clear diction. However he did tend to speak his lines out to the audience rather than to his fellow actors.

Tom. Peter Greenwood

A mature performance. Peter conveyed the awkwardness of a young man torn between love and what he saw as his duty. I really believed the agony that he was going through in his mind. When he was recounting the incident where he had been given a white feather, he had a catch in his voice. This was very moving.

Grace. Becky Craig

Alice. Cheyenne Coleman

The girls worked well together and changed from simple daisy chain making lasses, to spiteful and unkind as their teasing of Emily turned to something much darker.

Edward. Matthew Greed

Robert. William Riglin

John. Ben Collins

Good ensemble acting from this trio. They changed from young lads playing at being grown up to soldiers at the front. As with the girls, they had to be really unkind, taunting Emily and circling her in a very menacing way. At all times, they all remained in character. Their faces conveyed a good range of expressions. Edward had some very funny lines and delivering them in a serious way, Matthew made them even funnier. Ben handled John’s first chaste kiss very well.

Sir Arthur Markham. Roger Lyons

This was a difficult role. Roger had some very long speeches, some of them too long. This fault can be laid at the door of the author. However, Roger could have used different tones of voice to keep our interest.

Mr Tennant. Ray Banks

This was a well-defined and pompous character. Ray spoke with feeling and yet with a politician’s knack for hearing facts and then ignoring them, managed to deflect most of Sir Arthur’s concerns.

The Hero’s Return

This short play finished the evening. The simple premise was that a local am dram group had lost their set and props and not learned their lines. (That recurring nightmare we all have!) Ray Banks was the narrator and as he told the story, with different accents and funny voices, Jon Beales had to become pieces of furniture. As the narrator named various items, the expressions that appeared on Jon’s face were extremely funny. There was horror, disbelief, a blank refusal to get involved, then a reluctant forcing himself to do what was necessary, with some filthy looks directed at the narrator. He first had to be a revolving door and with arms stiffly held out, he swung round knocking the returning hero, Bradley Cole, off his feet. He was a hat stand, a settee that collapsed when it was sat on, a fire in the grate and the final item, a baby’s cradle. It takes a lot to make me laugh out loud and this was one of the funniest things I have seen for a long time. It takes skill to play a role with no dialogue and yet to have the audience laughing throughout. Well done, Jon.

Conclusion

This was a total departure from KYD’s normal shows and they handled the serious drama very well. Putting on a show in a village hall rather than a well-equipped school hall must have presented a challenge, both with staging and lighting but they rose to that challenge and gave us a thoroughly entertaining evening.

The evening began with the reading of Rupert Brooke’s poem The Soldier. The stage was in darkness and those familiar words were read beautifully. As the poem finished, the gentle “Perfect Day” set the scene for a summer’s day in the park in 1915.

The play educated us about the vast numbers of young boys in the First World War who lied about their age, desperate to go and fight. A quarter of a million never came back. The end of the play was a collection of statistics. Each actor came onto the stage and told us a shocking fact about the war. As the stage filled up, red lighting enhanced the setting. Seeing those young people, totally still and focussed as more facts were given, was very poignant.

Abigail Morgan and Daisy Greenwood sang “Somewhere only we know”. Dressed simply in black, they performed well and their voices blended well.

Then it was the turn of the audience as the cast led the singing of some well-known WW1 songs. Backing tracks with singers were used but I felt they sometimes hindered the singing, as the timing was strange and hard to sing along with. Perhaps just a music track would have been better?

Having brought a tear to many an eye, they switched to making us laugh in the silly but hilarious Hero’s Return.

I hope the cast enjoyed the chance to do something really different. It was a very pleasant evening and I wish them every success in their future productions.

Jane Rayner

13 October 2014

Tiptree Parish Council would like to thank the KYDS Drama Group for putting together a very entertaining production as part of the Tiptree village WW1 centenary.

Councillors who attended the show enjoyed it very much and had a very entertaining evening. They found the night involved a great mix of theatre from the a 1 act play, which had pathos and emotion. The WW1 sing along and the final mimed short story, with its interesting end made for a very good production.

It was wonderful to see the event so well attended by Tiptree residents. Please pass the Parish Council’s thanks to everyone involved in the evening.

Regards

Carolyn McSweeney – Clerk to Tiptree Parish Council

We were pleased to support Help for Heroes at this event
and managed to raise a total of £256.80 for the Charity.