WASHINGTON Irving’s classic ghost story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, is a perfect vehicle for a youth theatre project, and so Miriam Battye’s new adaptation, celebrating 30 years of Bath youth drama, was an appetising prospect.
Directed by John East, for the second year in the intimate confines of the egg (the youth theatre space of the historic Theatre Royal), it promised inventive scary storytelling and a chance for a large young cast to shine.
The move into the egg followed many summers of performance in the challenging spaces of the Prior Park ball court, where generations of young actors exhibited extraordinary skills, not least of them vocal projection which took their words into the far corners of the court, even in rain and wind.
You may guess where I am going.
It was a huge disappointment that so many of the 40-strong cast of Sleepy Hollow were simply inaudible in the intimate setting of the egg. Battye’s deconstruction of the story, aimed at emphasising the dreamlike qualities of the original, involved lots of chorus work and lots of movement, which must have been instructive fun for the summer school participants.
The division of text into individual voices called for varying tone, pace and volume.
Perhaps the most famous image from Irving’s work is that of the headless horseman. The director used the “movement” element of the workshops to create racing horses from a confusingly increasing number of actors.
There were some excellent and memorable performances, and the audience of family and friends were obviously delighted by the accomplishments of their children. Outstanding were 12 year old Harry Bradley, as well as Kai Ball, Katrina Rose, and Hepzibah Bevis.
The opening scene was atmospherically lit and the progress of the story was dreamlike. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow continues until Sunday 27th August.