Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Tales from the High Rise

Tower Block Trio

Stage2 Youth Theatre, Crescent Theatre


On one of the hottest evenings in the city, Stage2 presented not one but three of Philip Ridgley's plays into a reworked and freshly cemented piece called Tower Block Trio.

Ridgley's work came to prominence in the 90s and the chosen works of Sparkleshark, Fairytale Heart and Moonfleece all reflect many of the now familiar themes of teens facing social and interpersonal difficulties.

The works all sit well together and Ridley has personally helped Stage 2 to abridge the three separate plays into one.

The sum benefit was that it allowed for this talented young cast to tackle a wide range of subjects from bullying to parental loss but the downside is that there is a lot of detail to track and follow in the three stories and the energy of one piece is often left hanging for a considerable time as we move on to another scene from another play.

Firstly Sparkleshark tells of young boy who is bullied and hides out each day on a Tower block roof where he writes his poems and stories. He is discovered by his oppressors and is recused from them by their combined imagination in a collective group storytelling session. The cast of this group were feisty and precise in their performances.

Fairytale Heart  is a simpler story of a young girl Kristy played by Chloe Jennings who has lost her mother and is coming to terms with her father's attraction to a new woman. Shy Gideon played by George Bandy is an artist who helps her escape her worries, again through storytelling and Imagination. The pair did well throughout being the smallest performing team in terms of numbers in the Tower Block trio.

Finally Moonfleece is complex story with a whole host of socially opposed characters returning to a derelict tower block to exorcise the memories of some very tragic memories. It's something of an unlikely tale and possibly the most hard to follow of the three works but the Stage 2 cast did a good job of building to the final crescendo when the truths of the past are finally revealed.

There were some nice group staging moments  that enable the remainder of the chorus of Stage 2 to get involved with a collective `schools out' opening  to animated dragons powered by the younger ones who symbolized the demons of each of the stories.

Whilst it's hard to imagine these days that the difficulties of growing up can somehow be overcome through a few old fashioned fairy stories the work does inspire young people to think outside of their direct issues in a collective way.

Credit must be given to everyone at Stage2 for building yet again on their high standard of youth theatre.  To 20-07-13

Jeff Grant 

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