Review: Through The Ages
Malachi Pullar Latchman
Tobi King Bakare
Kieran E Simms
Based on true events, Through The Ages, is a piece which confronts its audience with what many have become desensitized to; that despite the abolishment of slavery, people have still endured various forms of inequality and discrimination over time.
This play is also a celebration of humanity, compassion, and communities revolting against corrupted powers.
The work travels through place and time, starting with African American slavery, journeying to immigration from Jamaica in the Wind Rush Era, following through to post apocalyptic London, with several stories in-between.
The play mediates horror with added elements of humour, ending the performance with a cocktail of spoken word comedy sketches and dance.
In the past week I've seen a number of productions from either emerging young companies, or featuring young actors at the start or in the early stages of their careers, including recent graduates from RADA.
This production is from RAaW, a film and theatre training company for 13 - 25 year olds.
Like the other productions I've seen over the past few days, it underlies one comforting fact - that the future of theatre is in the safe hands of dynamic, talented and highly committed actors.
Written and directed by Robbi Stevens (with some elements directed and written by Kandice Morris and Victoria Howell) the main section of this work is a series of plays from different eras.
Additionally, some short sketches are tacked on at the end of the programme which, though sometimes humorously interesting, don't seem to dovetail or sit particularly comfortably with what had gone before.
In a real sense, this is a showcase production enabling a large number of young actors to take to the stage and show off their skills in a series of vignettes covering subjects that many of us are familiar with from either our own current experiences of life in modern Britain, or from history lessons.
Six short scenes or playlets move us through time from the era of slavery in the USA, through the plight of unmarried mothers in Victorian England, snapshots of the arrival of the Windrush generation, the war in Vietnam, knife carrying and knife crime in present-day London, and ending in a world governed by lies two decades in the future.
The link holding all the separate plays together seems rather tenuous if we go merely by the synopsis - though the disparate nature of the pieces enables different conclusions to emerge.
I don't think, though, that signalling an overarching thematic link strictly matters or imparts particular significance because the plays each carry their individual merits and, more importantly, they are recognisable and understandable for audiences.
The bigger reality is that the plays give a large number of young actors the chance to show us the range of their skills, and they all take advantage of the opportunities with passion and authentic flair, and the overall level of acting skill rivals much of what I've seen during the past week.
There's a strong multimedia flavour to Robbi Steven's professionally-honed production which lends a filmic atmosphere to proceedings with well-chosen music and projections adding to the overall ambience, even if the sound volume was at times just a little too-too.
But it's in the acting department where Mr Stevens' efforts are rewarded - his large ensemble deliver emotionally truthful and absorbing performances that are impressive right across the cast.
I'm stridently resisting the temptation to identify particular performers, though some do stand-out.
But what is particularly striking about the show is the commendable uniformity among the cast in terms of their passionate enthusiasm, backed-up with substantial skill and well-tuned craft that delivers what all theatre-goers look for from the theatre - interesting and compelling performances.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Theatro Technis
Our show listing for Through The Ages
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