Who's Afraid of Monsters?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 November, 1997, 12:00am

Who's Afraid of Monsters? Inchcape Youth Theatre Initiative. Shouson Theatre, Arts Centre. November 5 Beginning with the caution 'please turn off your pagers, mobile phones and tamagotchis' the 83 cast members of Who's Afraid of Monsters took their audience of all ages into a wild woodland, and talked about fear.

The show, based on Roald Dahl's story The Minpins, is about monsters. Not just the marvellous shadow creature with its grumbling stomach that is holding the fairy community hostage in the drama, but the private monsters of fear in each of us.

Everyone is afraid of something, after all, whether it is spiders, ghouls, being seen to be uncool, your wig falling off mid-performance, or being bullied.

Moral it might have been, but this was no old-fashioned fable. Our seven protagonists - Hong Kong students seeking adventure - are 1990s kids who tell each other to 'take a chill pill'; the naughty spirits they meet are happiest at a fairy rave - complete with techno sprite music.

It was a huge cast, but the stage never felt over-crowded, a tribute to director Lindsey McAlister and choreographers Emma Seward and Jessica Smith who imagined some suitably grim goblins, marvellous mermaids, fabulous fairies, and a woodland full of gnarled-tree children into stage existence.

The highly danceable score was written by Nick Harvey - with nods to Les Miserables for the 'little people' song - and Roberto Conte and Liz Darke's costumes were spectacular. Onstage the adult roles were mainly kept to the side, which was a good decision: the older roles worked least well, and grownups, as they say, should be heard and not seen.

It was a moving moment when the mixed ability cast snaked on stage, holding hands and forming a forest of youth. This is what the Youth Arts Festival is all about: young people of all ages working together in their shared languages to create a performance for themselves and about themselves.

In the words of the fairies: 'three cheers for the children'.