Review: Pomegranate Youth Theatre rise to a challenge

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The Pomegranate Youth Theatre certainly enjoy a challenge.

Their latest one has been known to daunt seasoned professionals: The Crucible,

Arthur Miller’s classic take on the notorious witchcraft trials which took place in Salem, Massacheusetts, in the 17th century, it is not an easy play by any standards.

The production took place at the tiny Rose Theatre on Rose Hill last week. The sparsely furnished, stripped down approach, played in the round, allowed the young actors plenty of opportunity to explore the wide variety of characters.

They tackled young and old with equal enthusiasm, taking characters from elderly midwife Rebecca Nurse (Alice Bell) to eighteen-year-old Mary Warren (Jasmin Lewis-Henman) in their stride. It was sometimes hard to believe that not one of the cast was over eighteen.

The Reverend Parris, proud, passionate and fearful for his livelihood, was played with gusto by Ryan Mitchell. As wilful Abigail, ringleader of the group of girls at the heart of the trouble, Sarah Kesteven veered between guilelessness and a sly contempt

Matthew Simmonite was commanding and uncompromising as Governor Danforth, who believed the hysterical girls wholeheartedly. Daniel Siddall never wavered as Hale, the priest who saw through them.

As John Proctor, Dylan Howells maintained a dignity matched only by Sophie Corker as his wife Elizabeth; the pair were the calm in the eye of the storm in the emotional courtroom scenes.

Passions ran as high as they must have in real-life Salem, as the desperation of the accused people’s families faced the vengeful girls. All the young players worked hard to recreate the wellspring of small-town prejudice and contention which brought about the fraught situation.

More power to directors Sheila Young and Rick Ferguson, and to PYT’s organiser Carole Copeland, for cultivating not only talent, but courage and self-belief in this group of energetic young people.