Play: Noughts and Crosses
Venue: York Theatre Royal
Dates: Until Saturday April 6
Review by: Julia Pattison
Malorie Blackman has written over 60 books for children and young adults, including Noughts and Crosses, a novel for young adults now adapted for the stage by Sabrina Mahfouz for Pilot Theatre, which began its run in February 2019 under the direction of Esther Richardson.
Pilot Theatre are an international touring theatre company based in York, and it was great to see them back in the city presenting this compelling tale in their own unique style.
The theatre was packed with young adults, some of whom were having their first encounter with live theatre, and behaved as if they were at home watching TV if their behaviour during the play was anything to go by! However, all credit to those stoic tutors who’d brought along their students to the performance; the majority of whom were thoroughly engaged and no doubt inspired by the quality drama they were experiencing. Hopefully, these young adults will be tomorrow’s theatre audiences.
For me, Pilot Theatre never fail to impress with their stunning sound and lighting; Arun Ghosh and Xana’s Music and Sound and Joshua Drualus Pharo’s Lighting ensured that the dramatic moments in the play had maximum effect.
Simon Kenny’s simple abstract space and minimal furniture meant that the scenes flowed effortlessly into each other; one minute we were down on the beach where crossed lovers, Cross Sephy (Heather Agyepong) and Nought Callum (Billy Harris) enjoyed rare time to relax together, and let their love grow, and the next there was the menacing dystopian feel of a wall of TV screens blaring out bad news.
The play drew you in from the start, and we as an audience felt the intensity of Sephy and Callum’s individual journeys.
Written over 20 years ago, there were sharp parallels with the turbulent state of the world today, and the need for kindness, compassion and love came across loud and clear as the pressure of race related tensions eventually came to the boil, with grim consequences.
A quality cast of eight, and an amazing creative team make this a must-see production.