Timing is everything in the theatre; when Rebecca Fidler approached Pippa Smith, from Brighton Dome’s Learning Access and Participation, with the idea of creating a dramatic work through the involvement of Brighton’s Youth Offending Services, the Alternative Centre for Education and the Family Intervention Project, she could not have chosen a more serendipitous moment. Smith had just been tasked by chief executive Andrew Comber with making theatre more accessible to ‘disenfranchised’ groups, and Fidler’s ideas were the perfect solution.
The eventual outcome was ‘Trapped’, which was performed at the Pavilion Theatre in the city last night. The fatalistic storyline centres around the volatile relationship between two young men, Pitt (Rupert De La Mare) and Penfold (Jake Penfold) and highlights the way their vulnerabilities are exploited by the sinister figure of Cash Money Long (Israel Oyelumade). Sam Hunter played Charlie, Pitt’s perfidious love interest.
The story was developed by the young players over ten weeks, allowing them to investigate their own ideas about the borderlines of responsibility and power. The plan was to create a world which mirrored, but was not a carbon copy of, their own environment – ‘at one step removed’ as Fidler put it.
Professional actors Oyelumade and Maria Skinner helped the teenagers to take their ideas and turn them into watchable drama.
The night was more about the power of performing than creating crowd-pleasing entertainment but it has to be said that Jake Penfold and Sam Hunter, in particular, showed signs of having what it takes, if a career in theatre beckons.
Next door at the Dome, Gary Wilmot was starring in the press night of ‘Chicago’ – another tale of lives lived on the wrong side of the tracks. But ‘Trapped’ replaced the razzle dazzle with nitty gritty and was the better for it.