Forever Young

The Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre’s Forever Young is a heartfelt portrayal of the damaged, tormented and stolen youths of the First World War through drama, poetry and song. Stories of individual experience are heightened by the incorporation of passages from the poetic writings of Sassoon, Owen and Brooke which were compiled in the midst of the conflict.

The staging is simple but cleverly effective; the use of shadow effects to project tall dark silhouettes onto the backdrop proves particularly atmospheric

Dressed in white shirts and breeches, the young four-male, three-female cast move from one role to another swiftly, showing an impressive versatility. They portray the pre-war pressures and finger-pointing of conscription, familial separation, trench life, the hopelessness of the wounded and the repercussions of the war experience on later life for the survivors. While these stories are attention-grabbing, they play too much on the usual trope of war stories: the young husband going off to fight, the underage soldier and so forth, without going into enough depth to invite the audience to delve wholeheartedly into the experience of these particular characters.

In addition to this, a clichéd mockery of figures of authority in the military seems to be a little off-tone with the rest of the performance, though it is clearly satirical. It seems that the troupe was a little too tempted by easy opportunities for comedy. Though no doubt intended as comic relief, caricature seems misplaced in a show of such earnest intentions.

The highlight of the performance is the decision to weave songs into the action. Emotion-packed singing emphasises human suffering on the one hand and the necessities of sticking together on the other. It celebrates the morale that soldiers were able to summon up, even in instances of pure devastation. The simplicity of the harmonious a cappella singing is poignant and reveals where some of the cast members’ most pronounced talents lie. Emilie Barrett in particular stands out with her confident delivery and powerful voice.

Moreover, the play has been efficiently directed. The staging is simple but cleverly effective; the use of shadow effects to project tall dark silhouettes onto the backdrop proves particularly atmospheric. The few props on stage are loaded with symbolism and are more than enough to convey a strong sense of place.

Forever Young is an enjoyable and thought-provoking performance that challenges the audience with a reminder of their duty to remember those whose lives were lost defending their country. However the genre of war-theatre is well-trodden, especially in this year of commemoration. This is by no means the show on this topic that stands out most at this year’s Fringe.  

Reviews by Maria Hagan

Summerhall @ Roundabout

Beats North

★★★
Viva Mexico

The News at Kate: Leftie Cock Womble

★★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Soweto Spiritual Singers

★★★★
C venues - C cubed

Romeo and Juliet

★★
Appletree Writers at The Whole Works

Spoken Word Sundays

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Voices of a shattered generation are brought to life in this poignant and powerful collection of poetry, prose, and songs exploring the horror, hope and wit that emerged from the First World War. Personal testimonies, letters and diary extracts are punctuated by popular songs from the era. Music and movement bring the work of Sassoon, Owen, Brooke etc, to the stage. Forever Young is a celebration, a protest and a tribute to those who lived, loved, died and wrote through 1914-1918. ‘A deeply moving production’ (British Theatre Guide). ‘Only a dyed-in-the-wool cynic would not be moved’ (Stage).

Most Popular See More

Constellations

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Be More Chill

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Prince of Egypt

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets