Young Pretenders, written by E.V. Crowe, and directed/designed by Mark Nagle for the Sydney Fringe Festival, is arresting theatre; theatre that entertains, shocks, beguiles, fascinates, informs, challenges, and thoroughly satisfies. It is the story of the ill-fated Bonnie Prince Charlie’s attempt to seize the throne of Scotland & England, Ireland and Wales. The action takes place in the lead up to the Battle of Culloden and the immediate bloody aftermath. But right from the first sound, the first image of a punk Charlie, gyrating in kilt, t-shirt and Doc Martens, it is clear that this version of the tragic downfall of the Jacobite movement was not going to be some conventional rendering of this tragic chapter of Scottish history. It’s style owes more to “Trainspotting” than “Braveheart”.
Though based on the actual factual events, and ostensibly set in 1745, E.V. Crowe has taken the bold step of having her characters speak in contemporary vernacular. This device underpins the directorial/stage design decisions of Mark Nagle, and those of costume designer Caitlin Hodder. Indeed, much of the pleasure had from this production is due to the perfect marriage of text and action. Both are bold, rich, witty, inventive, simple, and at the same time, dense in meaning and poetry. With a microscopic production budget, this is poor theatre that even Peter Brook would applaud. This production ticks all the boxes, and Nagle’s directorial vision is admirably realized by a talented crew and a wonderful cast: Ryan Bown (Bonnie Prince Charlie), Shawn McEachern (Donald), and Madelaine Osborn (Katie/Flora). All the cast do a stellar job, but the play belongs to Ryan Bown, who literally explodes onto the stage, like a cross between Johnny Rotten and Michael Hutchence.
One small piece of advice if you are contemplating attending the play, to fully appreciate the script do a bit of homework about the Young Pretender and the Battle of Culloden. Though the play deals with issues of friendship, loyalty, love, betrayal, belief in yourself and self-delusion, a bit of historical background knowledge will help.
Garrett Cruikshank – Theatre Now
Tuesday 13 September 2016Start Time: 6:00pm
Wednesday 14 September 2016Start Time: 8:00pm
Thursday 15 September 2016Start Time: 6:00pm
Friday 16 September 2016Start Time: 8:00pm
Saturday 17 September 2016Start Time: 7:00pm
542 King St