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Though This Be Madness, Belgrade Theatre: Review

Though This Be Madness, Belgrade Theatre, October 20-22

By Ashley Hayward

This play may only last for seventy minutes but four talented young actors give faultless performances and do justice to a very powerful script.

The script throws light on the lives of many of our young people often from unstable family backgrounds and living in deprived areas.

They struggle in mainstream education and are often excluded by successive schools until they eventually end up in Pupil Referral Units

For many the school curriculum is seen as totally irrelevant and they see very little hope forthe future.

Unsurprisingly many such disaffected youngsters are attracted to an alternative culture involving gangs, drugs and knife crime.

We meet a kindly teacher in the PRU who ambitiously tries to engage the pupils by introducing them to Hamlet. There could well have been some ‘method in his madness’ as the pupils slowly start to reveal hidden talents and respond to his alternative approach.

Sadly one of the pupils, Tachia, is still under enormous peer group pressure to join the local ‘Crew’.

The actors play a variety of parts and move seamlessly from one scene to another often making their own very simple but effective set changes.

The characters are all extremely authentic, totally believable and the production is a very moving piece of physical theatre accompanied by some very clever rap.

It’s difficult to see a future for young people from these types of background especially with the current narrowness of a school curriculum and the significant cuts that have been made to diversionary youth provision.

We can but hope that the Mandela Theatre Company continues to be successful in its attempts to encourage inclusion and participation and release the hidden talents within these ‘hard to reach’ groups who have been failed by the current system.


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