'Karamazoo' by Philip Ridley
'Headstrong' by April de Angelis

Performed by New Everyman Youth Theatre
Everyman Theatre: Friday 19 and Saturday 20th

Reviewed by E. Hughes

Having not been to the theatre for ages, two quite small and compact pieces like Karamazoo and Headstrong were enough to bring me back into the theatre experience.

Karamazoo was a one-act monologue, about a gobby wisecracking Liverpool girl, played well by Pamela Minto. The background of this story was the death of her father, and how ‘Ace’, the principal, and only, character, tries to play it cool, or tough, or mouthy and even sentimental but is obviously troubled and confused by her tremendous loss. A nice little cameo by a great actress.

Headstrong: Set against a backdrop of the opium trade, and the prevailing social strata and perceived notions of what was ‘right’ and ‘proper’ comes Lila Mae, the ‘headstrong’ girl of the title, and her servant and mother. Lila is to be wed to an Englishman in Bombay she has never met, after an arrangement between her father and his father, who own a clipper between them regularly bringing opium to China. Lila is adamant she will not marry her intended, and so is plied with opium to calm her down, becoming an addict in the bargain.

It is a curious premise for a play, 1830 and aboard an opium clipper, but it worked; it was also funny and a little contemporary too. One actor who stood out was Shaun Mason who played an awful romantic poet Mr Oliver, who, try as he might, cannot make any verse, much to his shock and sadness, and my amusement. He was like Steven Fry…on opium perhaps. All the main actors and actresses in fact were professional and got into the roles they played.

All in all, it was immensely enjoyable and we can look forward to a lot more of the New Everyman Youth Theatres unusual and interesting plays.