The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
August 11, 12 & 13, 2005.
The Life and Death of Almost Everybody
by David Campton
Tom Harris – Sweeper
Kira Brannlund – Aunt Harriet
Paul James – Young Man
Sara Hadfield – Young Woman
Danny Bayford – Mr. Broom
Katie Foulsham – Mrs. Broom
James Wilson – Mr. Guide
Sarah Allen – Mrs. Guide
Katie Whitmore – Lust
James Wilson – Envy
Carla Coppendale – Avarice
Sophie Lane – Gluttony
Helen Brewster – Anger
Kirsty Bliss – Sloth
Katie Whitmore – Emissary
Hugo Harwood – Messenger
Danny Bayford – Court Official
Helen Brewster – Girl
James Foulsham – Chief of Police
Sophie Lane – 1st Guard
Hugo Harwood – 2nd Guard
Kirsty Bliss – Indignant Person
Katie Foulsham – Voice in the Crowd
Courtney Troullos – Manager
Producer – Kevin Isaac
Lighting – Mike Medway
Sound – Simon Snelling
Stage Manager – Ryan Lainchbury
DSM – Kevin Isaac
ASM – Zoë Attree
Wardrobe – Zoë Attree
Wardrobe – Cherry Briggs
Workshop Team – David Comber
Workshop Team – Mike Davy
Workshop Team – Robert Mitchell
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity – Rosemary Brown
Publicity – Simon Druce
Front of House – Betty Dawes
Box Office – Margaret Murrell
Programme Note #1: The Life and Death of Almost Everybody
MB wrote: “After their successful production of The Exam last year, Young Wick have set their sights on a more challenging and thought-provoking piece. Over the past year the group has grown in numbers and gained experience in more tasks on and off stage. With new faces working alongside original members, it has been a pleasure to direct them and see them grow as performers.
This year Young Wick have chosen a play with a comic tone – but underneath there are some serious and symbolic moments that mirror our own history. As he tidies up an empty stage, The Sweeper is tempted to experiment with the magic power of the theatre, to create life through the exercise of the imagination. From this The Sweeper creates a Young Man and a Young Woman. As events begin to go beyond his bewildered control, the most potent forces in human life and society – love, hate, politics, religion – emerge and dominate. Eventually, The Sweeper struggles to regain control of his delinquent creations, but can he banish them back to the shadows before the Stage Manger returns? All you have to do is imagine …”
Review #1: The Life and Death of Almost Everybody
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Andy Trotman
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A play about God, Life, and the universe. A pretty heavy subject for a Thursday night, I think you will agree. However, Young Wick Theatre Company have made all these subjects interesting, and even fun, in their production – The Life and Death of Almost Everybody. Heavily drenched in metaphor, the play tells the story of a theatre cleaner, who sweeps the stage after performances. This sweeper starts to imagine a man and a woman, who come to life. Soon, he has created a whole host of people who can exist without his influence. As events become increasingly stressful for the sweeper, he must try to get rid of all the characters before his boss, the theatre manager, arrives.
I was a bit worried as to how this play would transmit to an audience, being a very thought-provoking production with a comic undertone. I was also wondering how a youth theatre company would deal with the subject matter. My fears proved to be ill-placed. Tom Harris, playing The Sweeper, was perfect for his rôle. Always full of energy and passion, impressive as his character is on stage for practically all of the play, Tom led the rest of the cast brilliantly. His comic timing and stage presence was one of the highlights of the performance. Support from Paul James, as Young Man, and Sara Hadfield, as Young Woman, was insightful, both working well with The Sweeper.
For some of the actors, this was their debut performance. This makes the effectiveness of the production even more remarkable, given that it was produced with such a high level of professionalism. With regards to the acting on display, special mention must be made to Kira Branlund, who played Aunt Harriet. She was superb as The Sweeper’s rival deity, coming across to the audience as adequately conniving and evil. Her mannerisms and personality were a delight to watch.
Despite a few teething problems, such as a few people forgetting their lines, this was a performance that held my interest throughout. A great evening’s entertainment.
Review #2: The Life and Death of Almost Everybody
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Barrie Jerram
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Imagine if you will – and imagine is what the audience was asked to do in this most challenging production for young actors – a bare stage on which people were conjured up from the vivid imagination of the man employed to sweep the stage. His intention was to control these characters, but they took on a life of their own and a battle of wills ensued. They started to take over the action and wanted to dictate the story line. In this respect the play carried echoes of the work of Italian playwright, Luigi Pirandello. His play Six characters in Search of an Author came to mind.
This is a morality play about power featuring the eternal struggle between good and evil, and takes a swipe at politics, and fashionable religions. Despite its serious content there was a lot of humour in the piece, much of which came from Kira Brannlund’s delightful and assured portrayal of Aunt Harriet, the eternal busybody. The part of The Sweeper is a major one, because he acts as a narrator as well as a performer in the story. Tom Harris gave a fine performance and handled well the long and difficult monologues that he was required to deliver.
The other main characters were The Sweeper’s creations, Young Man and Young Woman, played well by Paul James and Sara Hadfield, who successfully managed the various transitions as they moved from mindless zombies to power hungry rulers. A large cast played the rest of the parts with some of the young actors doubling up. On the whole their standard of acting was good with Sophie Lane’s performance as Gluttony being worthy of a special mention, as was the comic miming of Hugo Harwood as a Messenger.
Mark Best’s sound Direction ensured that the audience had an entertaining and thought provoking evening. His rapport with the young cast was apparent in eliciting so many good performances. However, there is an element of weakness that he must address and work on with some of his cast. A few of them had problems with their diction and need to be helped with voice projection.
Review #3: The Life and Death of Almost Everybody
Publication: Words and Music
Publication Data: Issue 119 – November/December 2005 – page 11
Reviewer: Gordon Bull
Text Header: Excellent work
At a time when there is so much rubbish in the media it is refreshing to know that some of our youth keep the flag flying for the Arts and Young Wick Theatre Company is one such group.
Their production of ‘The Life and Death of Almost Everybody’ by David Campton puts us all on the spot. What is God and What’s he up to? The continual dilemma re-freewill and predestination surfaces in this engaging play with its realisation of the ‘deadly-sins’. Having created man and woman for our imagination, The Sweeper [Tom Harris] is constantly challenged by Aunt Harriet [Kira Brannlund] to keep his plan on track.
One can have nothing but praise for the large cast and in particular for The Sweeper whose well-measured delivery was a joy to experience along with interpretation and clever nuances. A couple of minor parental principals would do well to learn from him how to project the voice, use pauses to good effect and not to gabble or swallow their lines.
I was intrigued to know why Gluttony was played, although with aplomb, by the sylph-like Sophie Lane. I certainly missed a point there! No doubt Director Mark Best will put me right. He, and the cast and the producer must be proud of their excellent work and that’s no sin!
Much food for thought here. The barest essentials and simple wardrobe were all that was necessary to carry through this success.