Feel the Love for Thurrock Youth Theatre!

By Lucy Chipperfield

Love was in the air for the members of Thurrock Youth Theatre this week as they performed a duo of excellent plays all about the trials and tribulations of finding that happy ever after with that perfect partner.

‘The Dating Game’ was the first performance of the night and truly showcased what a talented bunch these young actors are. Not only was this play performed by the Thurrock Youth Theatre, but it was also written by Alex Lawler, a member of the Thurrock Youth Theatre. No doubt, Alex’s creation was excellent and highlighted what an incredibly talented actor and scriptwriter he is.

‘The Dating Game’ revolves around Joe (played by James Burgess), a tragic loser in love who decides he can no longer wait for fate to dish up his long awaited ‘perfect partner’. Therefore, Joe passes the power over to a dating agency and is quickly delivered a variety of dates with a variety of girls and boys who have a variety of opinions, attitudes and cultures. Unfortunately, Joe’s desperate bid to impress his prospective dates result in him over exaggerating and lying about his average self. Subsequently, Joe’s inability to be truthful to himself and others lead to a string of unsuccessful dates. Will the average Joe learn to accept himself and others for who they really are and ‘live happily ever after’? Or will Joe continue to be a loser in love forever more?

Whilst ‘The Dating Game’ is essentially a light-hearted narrative about one man’s journey to find his ‘perfect partner’; it also cleverly challenges many social discriminative judgements that concern young people today such as racism, class discrimination and religion. Undoubtedly, these issues require a considerable amount of maturity and sensitivity from the actors. Having said that, the performances were outstanding and delivered absolute conviction when dealing with these serious issues.

James Burgess’ lead performance of Joe, a hopelessly desperate man in search of love was excellent. James’ character truly captured the frustrations and challenges that occur on the journey to finding that ‘perfect partner’. In addition, James’ performance was enhanced by the equally as brilliant performances from Jamie Tidbury, Katie Bradd, Zoe Burton, Amy Borland, Judith Cordingley, Ben Ward, and not forgetting the multi talented individual, Alex Lawler.

The second play of the evening was ‘Erica and Me’ written by Alan Robinson. This time the play revolves around Simon (played by Alex Lawler), another loser in love who is eager to achieve a promotion in his current job. In a desperate bid to get a promotion, Simon decides to invite his boss around for dinner. To impress him further he feels he should show his boss that he is in a stable relationship. Therefore he decides to hire ‘Erica’ from an escort agency to pretend to be his partner for the evening.

No doubt, the outrageous plot to this play was guaranteed to be comic genius – and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Obviously, Alex shone in this production and so too did the performances of Mr and Mrs Collings (played by Michael Harris and Kimberley Davies) who worked extremely well together and provided endless entertainment for the audience to enjoy.

Overall, there is no hesitation that there is a lot of talent in the Thurrock Youth Theatre. I was simply amazed at the brilliant performances on stage and was thoroughly entertained by each and every one of these talented individuals. I simply cannot wait for the next production from Thurrock Youth Theatre!!

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