O! Glorious Youth

It’s the early 20th Century, and dancing, drugs and violence are rife in London. O! Glorious Youth shows us the lives of bohemian adolescents around the end and aftermath of the Great War, revealing the darker side of the party.

Green Stag Theatre show great promise with this production, and with a little more confidence, could produce something fantastic.

The show has a strong opening as Italian futurist Marinetti sets the scene with a mix of humour and charm that entices us to join the soirée, and we soon find ourselves in the heart of a bustling London club. Here the cast recreate the atmosphere of this exclusive venue through mime and stylised tableaux. Though there are some impressive moments, such as the multiple group photo shoots, there are times when this stylised physicality seems clumsy and awkward.

During club scenes, all actors face outwards and mime the interactions with each other such as shaking hands, dancing and occasionally fighting. However, while the tableaux and mimes continue in the background, these stylised interactions feel unnecessary and compromise the performance to the point where some of these moments become clumsy and completely dilute the intensity of the scene. For example, the first meeting of Richard (an upper class snob) and Edward (the doorman) looked very insecure as both actors attempted to synchronise movements such as a handshake and clapping each other on the shoulder.

The ensemble competently multirole throughout the production, clearly informing us exactly who their character is at any given time. The star of the show was Nick Verspeak (Marinetti/ Nicky and Customer) who confidently delivered three clear and contrasting characters, each equally as engaging. Yet it was his powerful portrayal of the soldier Nicky that really stood out, particularly through his shell shock scenes.

O! Glorious Youth takes a strong idea and delivers a very good performances in places, but this production lacks the boldness that is needed within a stylised piece of theatre like this. Green Stag Theatre show great promise with this production, and with a little more confidence, could produce something fantastic.

Reviews by Alex Hargreaves

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The Blurb

Experience pain and passions, fads and fashions of youth pre and post Great War; let us take you to a world of forgotten gangs, white feathers for queues of quivering recruits, dining out girls and their khaki fever, and the birth of the Bright Young Things, in the persona of doomed twins Edward and Nancy and their war scarred older brother. Inspired by Jon Savage’s classic Teenage: an examination of teenagers before they had been invented, this is stylised theatre at its purest – the styles being those plundered from the era to tell these lost tales.