It’s always refreshing to see the talent that Backstage Youth Theatre brings out in young people year after year, and 2011 was no exception.
Unlike other years, however, the group put on just one play, instead of the usual two, but made up for that with a talent show at the end.
The show the group took to the stage this year was a play titled ‘A Year and a Day’, which is written by Christina Reid, and was directed by Paul Higgins, a prominent member of Backstage Theatre Group.
The play centres on a tale told by a travelling storyteller (Sionan Murtagh) to a young girl (Kate McGuinness), while both are living in a destroyed world. She tells a tale about a peaceful land from the past, which was inhabited by creatures known as ‘Kritters’, and she describes the effects of the arrival of humans.
In this case, the humans take the form of two tribes who differ in their religious beliefs. From there is told a tale of ghosts, of war and of unexpected love between two members of the tribes, who are played to their tragic ends by Darragh Cooney and Darina Birsanu.
All the time, the audience was captivated by strong performances by these teen actors, though a little troubled by the eerie nature of the ghost story.
Director Paul gave words of high praise when speaking of the cast, saying that there was “so much talent to choose from” for the cast of 26. He described the experience of having just one play as being “like a mini panto”.
Of course, the talent show which followed was just as impressive, with particularly compelling performances by Mary Smyth on the harp, the talented dancer Manini Linuza, and Darragh Cooney who took to the stage once more, this time to sing.
Overall, this was another wonderful night’s entertainment in Backstage Theatre. Not only were the lights and sound used to make a very effective haunting atmosphere, there was an astonishing amount of talent to be seen on stage that night – from actors and dancers to musicians and singers. And all were in their teens. It just goes to show, age most certainly does not determine talent.