Noughts and Crosses at Birmingham Alexandra Theatre - Review

Noughts and Crosses at Birmingham Alexandra Theatre - Review


Posted 2022-11-17 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Tue 15 Nov 2022 - Sat 19 Nov 2022

Noughts and Crosses has become a sensation among young adults and older following the books' adaptation for TV. The dystopian romance has now been transformed to stage in this debut UK tour.

Stopping off at Alexandra Theatre , this latest version of Malorie Blackman's award-winning books is in Birmingham for a week until Saturday November 19.

A large red, menacing neon cross greets audiences before the action begins on a hi-tech multimedia stage where news reports are beamed on various screens.

There's also a suitably apt colour palette of blood red for this grim tale of prejudice and racial segregation.

Blackman turned history on its head by taking elements of apartheid in South Africa and using it in this novel. It's a world where the ruling class is made up of dark skinned Crosses who oppress the colourless former slaves called Noughts.

Childhood friends across this racial divide are Sephy and Callum. She is a somewhat privileged, naive Cross whose dad is a powerful bigoted politician. While Callum is an intelligent Nought, who has to fight for basic rights like a good education and isn't allowed a passport to escape the misery.

Their friendship is the one bit of optimism in their lives and is portrayed beautifully by the compelling young leads, James Arden and Effie Ansah. Their chemistry maintains the bubbling undercurrent of romance at their secret beach meet-up point. It's a nice touch that you can even hear the waves lashing the shore.

Although their kissing scene became more of a comedy due to the hilarious reaction of overexcited squealing schoolchildren in the audience. Then again, it's YA stories like this that are encouraging young audiences to enjoy the thrill of live theatre.

There's plenty of action through to the dramatic finale but hardcore fans should be aware that some of the family secrets from the book have been left out.

Although no easy task, this production from York-based Pilot Theatre manages to carefully negotiate difficult topics without being too heavy-handed.

There's a sensitivity that is tender for teenage audiences despite the serious topics. That ranges from how terrorism can be borne from oppression to alcoholism, bullying, racism, teenage suicide and pregnancy. There's even the age-old arguments of how one person's terrorist can be another's freedom fighter.

As I mentioned, this is grim with a capital G, but it's also thought-provoking and entertaining too.

Steph Asamoah has stage presence as Sephy's traditional sister Minera, or Minnie, among the small cast that doubles up for minor roles.

Sometimes voices didn't project that well and that could be worked on, to make the dialogue louder on the whole. While Sephy's mum is supposed to be a raging alcoholic but didn't seem to slur or appear out of sorts at all.

That said it's a well thought out adaptation that appeals to not just young audiences but older ones, even if you're not au fait with the novels.

Noughts and Crosses is a compelling, dramatic and emotional show that stays with you long after you have left the theatre.

RATING: 3.5 stars out of 5

#theatre -reviews
!date 15/11/2022 -- 19/11/2022
70811 - 2023-01-26 01:49:33


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