A glorious swansong for the NTC

interact 4play.
interact 4play.

4Play, Alnwick Playhouse, Wednesday, April 20 and Thursday, April 21 then touring.

Well, if this turns out to be the last performance of InterACT, due to funding cuts, then it is certainly a glorious swansong.

Consisting of four half-hour plays designed to project the ‘absurdity of life, love and truth’, this performance was exactly the kind of stimulating and, above all, entertaining theatre that places like north Northumberland miss out on without the likes of InterACT and Northumberland Theatre Company.

Ranging from the humourous and light to the hard-hitting and emotional, often within the same play, the four segments worked as individual entities as well as combining for a varied night of entertainment.

I was really drawn in to the first play, Jailbait, with a plot that slowly reveals itself in a tale of sisters, abuse and murder with fairytale-like overtones, while the intriguing The Plastic Chairs, which explores our modern obsession with technology, left me puzzling over its meaning.

There is also the romance involving a man returning from prison to his friend with whom he shares a love of film and a daughter remembering her mother upon her death but also looking at her own life.

But the show would not have held the interest across all four plays if it wasn’t for the strength of the acting.

The director Rachel Oliver told me that the performance was designed to act as a showcase of the young actors’ talent and if tonight was anything to go by all four - Rachel Gray, Sarah Jane Gargett, Charlotte Higgins and Umar Ahmed - showed more than enough comedy, drama and musical chops to ensure they will have long careers treading the boards.

Each performer also had a short interlude between the plays in which they offered up tongue-in-cheek pleas for more work, one even managing to work a dig at the Arts Council for cutting their funding into an adaptation of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5!

Rachel herself also deserves praise as do the four writers Alexander Clark, Sally Torode, Freddie Machin and Clive Holland, while designer Anna Rees and stage manager Amy Wardley allowed a small cast to use a relatively small space to great effect.

If you get a chance to catch this talented young group later on the tour then take it as it could be your last chance.

But judging by the ability and determination on show, I would very much doubt it.

BY BEN O’CONNELL