Jamie McDonald

Chrysalis: Sheep

Image courtesy of Traverse Theatre

Chrysalis: Sheep 
Traverse Theatre
Run Ended

This is the second year that the Traverse Theatre has hosted Chrysalis, a weekend-long festival celebrating the colossal talent and unique voice of young people in the theatre industry.

In partnership with Youth Theatre Arts Scotland (YTAS), the festival brings together young people from a wide range of places, including Deptford and Malta. The high concentration of talent participating is so inspiring that it is unsurprising that they have come back for a second year to encourage us to get excited about the possibilities for theatre in the future.

The festival consists of a series of plays performed by different young theatre companies, such as the Teatru Manoel Youth Theatre from Malta and the Platform Young Company from Glasgow. Running alongside the productions are workshops and talks aimed at other young people interested in getting involved in theatre. These are run by Chrysalis Company cast members, so the festival really allows you to become immersed in the current young theatre scene, opening your eyes to new perspectives and different voices in a highly engaging way.

Highlighting the awesome abilities of the Tron Young Company, based in Glasgow, Sheep focuses on war in the 21st century, exploring how it affects the soldiers themselves and the people they leave back home.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the production is its maturity and expertise. It is impossible to view this as anything but a professional performance, not simply because of its lighting and staging, but because of the emotionally complex performances given by all of the actors, especially those portraying the process of grief following the death of their soldier partners: Kirsty Orr, Miranda Langley and Rachael Keiller.

The play is particularly engaging in its representation of gender relations, highlighted by the episodic structure and the use of time to split the cast into male and female groups. For the male soldiers, time goes backwards in the play, beginning with the death of Dylan (John McAndrew), one of the last men in the army that the women knew to be alive, before delving into the past of his experiences of war with his best friend Harris (Sam Stopford).

The light-hearted joking and easy friendship between the two is genuine and convincing, often providing some comic relief to the otherwise serious questions posed by the play.

By contrast, the interactions between the women begin with Dylan’s funeral and drive forward, emphasising their need to support each other through their grief and into life afterwards. All of the actors, male and female, are fully invested in their characters but it also feels like they are expressing part of themselves through their performances, which colours their acting and gives it depth.

Judging from Sheep, we should be very excited for what Scottish youth theatre has to offer us, both now and in the future.

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