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by May Davey for remotegoat on 04/03/11
Besides being a significant accolade it may be something of a millstone round the neck for Polka Theatre to be described as a national treasure: for more than three decades it has been developing work specifically for young audiences and has a strong reputation for the quality of its output. With that comes pressure to demonstrate a finger continuously on the pulse of what young people want to see. Though the real decision-
Robert Westall's novel is set on Tyneside during the heavy wartime bombing raids of 1940-
Ali Taylor's stage adaptation retains the novel's spirit and humour though, understandably, narrows its focus to the exploits of the children rather than the townspeople at large. With the exception of 'narrator' Chas (securely played by Michael Imerson) the cast of six play multiple roles with precision.
Also understandable, but I think less successful, is the decision to keep the action moving swiftly at the expense of allowing emotions to surface and inhabit fully the space they deserve. Director Adam Penford and his team will have debated the merits of this for sure; my own sense is that we sell young audiences short if we believe a rattling pace is necessarily the key to keeping them engaged -
'The Machine Gunners' contains moments of real tension -
At the schools' performance I attended the audience (typically aged 11-
Very enjoyable, for kids and their adults.
|Alice In Wonderland|
|Dreamboats and Petticoats|
|The Machine Gunners|
|The Greatest of Men|