Theatre Review: Babe, The Sheep-Pig & Animal Farm by Upstage Centre Youth Theatre

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Friday 8th May 2015, 41 Monkgate

Matt Harper directs Upstage’s Junior Team in a heartwarming production of the well-loved story Babe, adapted by David Wood from the book by Dick King Smith. Joshua Goodman leads the older group in a chilling retelling of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, adapted by Peter Hall.

A dirty wooden-fenced balcony doubles as Farms Hoggett and Manor to set the scene for these two very different stories. The audience walk in among checkered-shirt farm-hands sweeping the yard, and later, past a sullen, solitary Mr Jones nursing a pint of beer.

Upstage’s signature Greek chorus and physical choreography deployed throughout is adept, affecting and powerful. Every actor shines in these slick, thoughtful shows on thrust staging where characters frequently confront the audience, making them complicit in the fun, the tragedy and the horror of these stories.

The multi-roling ensemble includes Poppy Hargreaves (Babe), Lucy Horner (Fly), Georgia Gray, Verity Harris, Millie Hughes, Julia Morgan, Ella Smith and Nancy Wright; Will Gibbon, (Mr Jones / Napoleon), Katie Harrison (Clover), Cari Hughes (Old Major / Muriel), Naomi Jeffries (Squealer), Charlie Kirkpatrick (Snowball), Robin Morgan (Boxer) and Juliette Risingham (Mollie / Benjamin).

Harvey Carass’s stoic Farmer Hoggett, and Debbie Phillips’s sincere, eloquent Narrator stand out from the crowd.

Slow-motion sequences add gravitas and poignancy to violence in both plays, performed impressively by the cast.

Both shows sensitively question what it means to be human; where human ends and animal begins.

Another moving, exciting production from Upstage.

Find out more about the company here.

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