Friday, 20 May 2011

A Night At The Theatre - The League of Youth

Nottingham Playhouse - The League Of Youth by Henrik Ibsen, a new version by Andy Barrett

Henrik Ibsen's play The League of Youth was rather surprisingly having its English premiere last Friday at Nottingham Playhouse, in a new version by Andy Barrett, and we went along to see it, accompanied by our 13 yr old daughter - I wasn't quite sure what she'd make of it but as she'd expressed an interest I didn't want to refuse.

Our last trip to Nottm Playhouse was to see Steven Berkoff's adaptation of Sophocles' Oedipus which was a stunning, visually compelling piece of theatre. The League of Youth is by comparison a much more straightforward production. Don't imagine though that it's dull and lifeless. For something written over a hundred years ago the similarities to contemporary politics were astounding - just proving that there's nothing new in politics.
The story revolves round young political contender Stensgard, a man full of ideals and new policies.....till he realises his personal interests may be best served by just going along with the way things have always been. I've seen a lot of comments likening him to Nick Clegg but to my mind there's more than a dash of the New Statesman, Alan B'Stard, in his quest for self-advancement at the cost of his principles.
Centre stage was, of course, taken by Sam Callis as Stensgard, in a selection of loud suits and snazzy waistcoats, but ably supported by the performances of the rest of the cast. I loved the way the extras were disguised at first as members of the audience and then all dashed up onto the stage fired up by Stensgard's speech - I wonder if any of the audience ever mistakenly join in?

As always, I bought a programme - which this time included a copy of the script. I think this is an excellent idea and it would be nice to see it more often. Free with it came a Vote Stensgard rosette - obviously he can't decide which party he favours, as the rosette uses all 3 party colours!

All in all I had an excellent evening though I don't feel in retrospect that this was a good play to take the Teen to for a taste of 'grown-up' theatre. Something like Berkoff's Oedipus would have engaged and inspired her more.

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