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Pop-up theatre, Moat House Leisure Centre, review: May Queen


May Queen, Pop-up theatre, Moat House Leisure & Neighbourhood Centre, Winston Ave, Coventry, to August 8.


By Jane Barker

It’s May Day in Coventry, 2022. Sixteen-year-old Leigh has been chosen to be the May Queen. Wearing her special dress she rides through the town on her elephant float waving to the crowds like the real queen.

But things get dark – an encounter during the day’s festivities will soon change everything for Leigh...

This is a deeply moving, powerful performance. Yasmin Dawes is stunning as Leigh, taking us through the agonies of growing up as a young woman in present day Coventry. Alone on stage for almost 90 minutes she delivers her lines with extraordinary power as we are taken on her journey.

The set is bare – the stage is a circle at the centre of the venue, a large tent set up in the grounds of the leisure centre. But it is brought to life by skilful lighting and sound: We hear the clicking of footsteps and the chirruping of birds in the garden.

The play, written by Coventry writer Frankie Meredith is funny at times, but it questions what is it really like to be growing up today.

It would resonate strongly with older children, so it's a shame that it is running during the school holidays. The City of Culture / Belgrade Theatre bosses should perhaps think about how they can engage with a wider range of people.

Age guidance is 12-plus. The play contains strong language and descriptions of sexual assault.

The play, directed by Balisha Karra, the Belgrade's co-artistic director for the City of Culture, is produced jointly by the Paines Plough theatre company and the Belgrade. It is one of four new plays being performed at the Moat House centre.

For tickets and information go to: www.belgrade.co.uk

Pictured are (left to right): Yasmin Dawes, Balisha Karra and Frankie Meredith.