LONGRIDGE Towers drama student Victoria Youngman directed a group of her fellow students from Year 9-13 in a production of Waterhouse and Hall’s ‘Billy Liar’ at the school last week.
The play was cast after the public exams in June and cast members took their scripts (which Victoria adapted) away over the summer break. Her loyal ensemble even came into school for rehearsals during the holiday, and when school resumed rehearsals became very intense.
The moment the play started, it was obvious where it was set – this side of the Pennines! The Yorkshire accent was perfectly sustained throughout without being caricatured. Nathaniel Forsyth was well cast as blunt-speaking father Geoffrey, along with his long-suffering wife Alice, played by Laura Regan. Sheona Dorrian was highly amusing as the gran – Florence, who only spoke to the sideboard, living in her own little world.
Billy Fisher was performed confidently by Johnny Whiting, whose antics and explanations became more and more complicated and convoluted as he drowned in an escalation of lies. The audience was especially entertained by his mime sequences – waking up, the mad conductor and the army major.
Billy’s three fiancées added to the confusion and mayhem: the orange-eating faithful Barbara (Charlotte Phillips), the forceful Rita (Rachel Guthrie) and the scruffy idealist Liz (Victoria Youngman).
The play also gave a stage outing to two up-and-coming young performers: Joel Raine (a GCSE student) as Billy’s friend Arthur and Daniel Flannigan (becoming well-known on The Maltings stage) as Jimmy, Billy’s younger brother.
Hardly had the applause died away, the set struck and the costumes returned to wardrobe, that the cast plus others were already starting work on their next production to be seen in October – Timberlake Wertenbaker’s ‘Our Country’s Good’.
The last word however must go to Victoria for her effort and commitment to her project. She spent part of her summer holiday at the RSAMD in Glasgow on a drama course, working alongside Katie Leung (amongst others) from the Harry Potter films.