The Electra Project

This play, about a group of high school students attempting to adapt the Greek classic with disastrous consequences, thankfully doesn’t end in a case of life imitating art, although things don’t get off to the smoothest start with the house opening late and the performers beginning before all audience members are seated.

This is an excellent piece of youth theatre.

An energetic chorus in robes and masks set out the story for us: a theatre studies class under the tutelage of zany teacher Ms Pugh puts on a production of Ifor their A-levels in which they attempt an avant-garde staging that combines the Stanislavsky technique (drawing on personal experiences to reach emotional truth) with Artaud’s theatre of cruelty (i.e. lots of screaming).

Alice Kerrigan is strong as Ellie, who plays Electra, while Declan Mason is exceptional as class clown Malachi. I felt the character of Martin as written failed to move beyond a nerdish stereotype, existing as a device to explain the theatrical terminology, although things improve when he dresses in drag and his performance is very strong. The character of Alfie, aspiring director, could be further boosted to brand him a visionary.

Then to the grand event, based loosely on the fallout of a true-life GCSE performance from a couple of years ago. The student performance as envisioned by Alfie and crew goes a step too far, damaging relationships and reputations. To be honest, this scene is not as offensive as it needs to be although it is very funny.

The choral speaking scenes are well done and although there are some issues with the masks muffling some of the voices, clear diction and projection meant all lines were understood. The performers are focused and clearly well rehearsed.

Written and directed by Dave Jackson and performed by the Hungry Wolf Visionary Youth Theatre, this is an excellent piece of youth theatre. It does indeed demonstrate the value of the so-called ‘non-academic’ arts in education and thumbs its nose at league-table authorities in its maxim that most things that are important are not measurable.

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Performances

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The Blurb

'Youth theatre at its best' ***** (BritishTheatreGuide.info). 'A massive highlight of the Brighton Fringe' ***** (WhatsOnStage.com). The Electra Project alludes to the 2012 nationally publicised and controversial GCSE performance, which resulted in the sacking of two drama teachers. This hilarious take on an educational scandal follows a group of A-Level students devising a Greek tragedy that goes horribly wrong and raises the question of whether we are still allowed to make mistakes in education. Written by Dave Jackson (NYT, ITV and BBC Radio 4).

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