Writer: Ursula Rani-Sarma
Directors: Kate McGregor, Guy Jones, Orode Faka & Clare McKenna
Composer: Paul Trippette
Reviewer: Elizabeth Vile
The Public Reviews Rating:
As part of the London 2012 Festival The Ripple Effect was written and produced specifically for children and young adults. “The aim of the project is to connect with young people from diverse backgrounds with limited experience of the arts and offer them the opportunity to learn new skills”, and based on the reaction from the audience and the commitment from the young cast this aim has been achieved. The concept was a tricky one to achieve, to perform a new piece of writing, based on the Olympic theme of truce, by using young actors from different youth drama groups. These groups were given a section of the play each and rehearsed these sections separately until they came together for a performance at Richmond theatre.
Set in a dystopian world where all adults have died children are trying to create a new world. Water is short and a council of children based in the remains of London has grown up in an attempt to bring order to chaos. A rigid society has built up where children are forced to work as slaves in return for food and water, but not everyone accepts this new society and unrest is rife. Through one act of compassion a chain of events begins that will change this new society forever.
The audience were treated to three out of the five sections of the play and it was evident that a lot of thought had gone into linking the three pieces so that the audience were able to understand the story even though there were chunks of text missing. This was effectively done with narration between the sections and generally the links were smooth, occasionally the audience struggled to follow the storylines of some of the minor characters and some of the subplot was lost but this only dulled the enjoyment of the piece slightly.
Singing was also used to signify to the audience that each section was coming to an end, this meant that the groups all received their well-deserved applause. The songs nicely recapped the action and were sung confidently by the performers, extra praise needs to be given to play one and four for singing unaccompanied, as this is always difficult to do well under pressure but they performed admirably.
The set, designed in a simple but effective way by James Turner, gave the piece a professional but derelict feel, it gave the large casts space to perform but also united the three pieces very well. The costumes worn were chosen well and fitted in with the post-apocalyptic setting, special mention needs to go to the costumes worn by the council in Play four and five as these were eccentric and created an effective contrast between the powerful and the powerless.
This performance was a strong ensemble piece with all the actors working well as a team to create an enthusiastic, focused and engaging piece. There were a few hesitations and forgotten words in places and sometimes the audience were unable to hear every word spoken but overall this was an effective piece of theatre that gave a platform to a wide range of emerging talent. I hope that all the performers enjoyed and learnt from the experience and will continue to develop their skills and talents well into the future. The actors and their parents should be very proud of their achievements.