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23rd February, The Studio, Grand Theatre, Blackpool
"Salt" is a play written by Dawn King that was brought to life in Blackpool for three performances by the Grand Theatre Young Company in association with the Electric Sunshine Project as part of the National Theatre's "Connections" scheme.
The official description goes : "Life is never plain sailing, but when a new government initiative comes into place offering young people the chance to train and learn skills overseas, droves of teens jump at the chance to secure their future. Once on board the transport ship, the promises of the glossy advert seem a far cry from what lies ahead.
A play about generations, choices and hope."
Performed in the small confines of The Studio upstairs in the Grand Theatre, this was a rather intimate setting. The cast comprising of youngsters between the ages of 14-19 proved themselves to be a collective of compelling talents as they brought to life using minimal props a rather Orwellian tale that at times felt rather sinister. I could relate to the main character's plight, being sold on some ideal dream to help improve their mundane existences only to realise they're being sold down the line with some nefarious government scheme designed to exploit them.
Recruited into the F.A.S. a bunch of youngsters are promised a better life abroad and the action takes place on a ship taking them to their destination. Unfortunately it becomes apparent very early on that their "team leader" is a corporate puppet incapable of making decisions for herself which in turns causes the rest of her team to question her credentials and their place within this scheme.
It very much reminded me of a handful of schemes and courses I was placed on over the years by the DWP where we were supposed to "think positive", indulge in inane menial activities supposedly designed to help us find work which were nothing more than fruitless wastes of time and Dawn King captures that sense of futility very well in her script.
The cast were excellent. Very convincing. They transported me and sucked me into the plot and intrigue effortlessly. Some imaginative touches in there with regards to moving and setting up the minimal props which I personally found extremely sinister and ensured George Orwell was in my mind!
This was the first direction job by Jo Cassidy and she did really well, making the most of what was to hand and getting spirited performances out of her cast.
I understand this play is being performed in various parts of the country over the course of 2019 by local youth theatre groups and it is well worth your time as it is a gripping thought provoking piece of drama.
(Baz, 25th February2019)