They say the beauty of some things is in their simplicity and that’s a critique that could most definitely be applied to Berwick Academy’s ‘Our Day Out’.
Their adaptation of Willy Russell’s play delighted audiences at The Maltings for two nights last week but had word got out about how fantastic the show was I’m sure it could have quite easily extended its run.
There might well be shouts of ‘oh change the record’ but I’ll say it again the wealth of young talent in north Northumberland and Berwickshire at the moment is out of this world.
With each new show whether it be by a school or local amateur operatic group, new faces emerge and ‘Our Day Out’ was no different.
The stars of November’s ‘Blood Brothers’- David Robson, Frazer Smiles and Melissa Steven- were back on stage, with David and Melissa taking their final bows for the school before going off to university.
The trio obviously have a knack for Willie Russell even though ‘Our Day Out’ was a very different challenge from ‘Blood Brothers’.
In the latter David played a naive, well to do, wrapped up in cotton wool kind of boy but last week he was required to step into the shoes of ruthless teacher Mr Briggs.
With a struggling school’s progress class looking forward to an excursion to Stirling Castle it was Briggs’ job to rain on their school trip parade.
And David made him into a rather formidable force as he tried to drain every bit of fun out of proceedings.
The loathed teacher did however undergo something of a transformation as the show went on, allowing David to loosen his tie a bit and change tack.
The optimistic chalk to Briggs’ stale cheese was Megan Smith’s Mrs Kay.
Like Melissa and David, ‘Our Day Out’ was Megan’s last show with the Academy and she looked like she was enjoying every minute of it.
Her character had a permanent smile on her face and she led her class of misunderstood teens on a rare trip outing away from their mundane homelife and the cheery and assured manner in which Megan played her was perfect.
Mrs Kay had a particular affection for Carol, a young pupil who wanted to escape the tribulations of her day to day life more than most. The role was one of the more complex in the play.
On the face of things Carol was a typical daydreamer but as the pages of the script began to turn it was clear she was a girl with a lot on her mind.
It was a part that demanded a maturity beyond the years of Nicole Mavin, the youngster who played her but Nicole’s performance was right up there with those of her older counterparts.
In her first leading role for her school Nicole made a fantastic first impression as did Emma Beveridge and Abigail Hood as two lovestruck girls with a serious crush on teacher Colin.
Their duet ‘I’m In Love With Sir’ worked very well and suited their vocals tones down to the ground and as the object of their affections, Ellis Cochrane also did a sterling job.
Successful partnerships were something of a running theme in ‘Our Day Out’. Ellis and Melissa were great as young teachers Colin and Susan, particularly when dealing with the loveable rogues of the piece, Frazer Smiles and Patrick Davenport’s Reilly and Digga.
If ‘Grange Hill’ was still around the lads would surely be snapped up as cast members; their back of the bus banter surely took many an audience member back to their school days.
The same too could be said about Aimme Coogan and Malita Brooke, who struck a particular chord with me.
Yes I was one of those teenagers who when asked what they thought of something, the answer was always ‘it’s boring’ but the girls took it to a different level and were anything but boring. All of the Academy pupils who made up the progress class looked like they were having the time of their lives on stage with their enthusiasm a constant force throughout.
And a special mention must go to ‘The Boss of the Bus’, Rhys Rudd who brought an Elvis-like swagger to the song of the same name.
‘Our Day Out’ was a show which could have easily stood on its own two feet without its music but the way the cast performed numbers such as ‘We’re Goin’ Out’, ‘The Fairground song’ and ‘No One Can Take This Time Away’ fully justified their inclusion.
There was no expensive set to provide a backdrop to the play but this was a show that didn’t need any added razmatazz.
The young cast’s acting spoke for itself and the clever use of multimedia which accessorised their performances was highly effective.
It’s become something of a staple description of Berwick Academy shows but once again this was truly top of the class