The Humber Mouth - Hull Literature Festival 2000 - Thursday 9th November - Sunday 19th November 2000
Critical Eye

Thursday 9th November - 8.00pm Review Ferens Art Gallery
Critical Eye Urban Eyes
Credo Arts Community

Last time Credo performed for the Literature Festival, I missed the show, so I was glad to catch up with them this time around. Representing perhaps the best kind of youth or community theatre, Credo performs with intelligence, exuberance and creative use of multi-media. 'Urban Eyes' was a compilation of music (mostly pre 90's pop and rock) and short dramatizations of poems. The show was themed around the pressures of urban life in the UK, and the disintegration of community.

Several of the younger members of the cast showed considerable talent, performing with ease and confidence. On the whole, they seemed more comfortable with work by contemporary authors such as Carol Ann Duffy than they were with, say, Wordsworth. Some also seemed more competent at acting on film than they were in front of a live audience, where the readings occasionally became too 'actorly'. The naturalness of the dramatization of Duffy's poem 'Stealing', presented as a short film, was striking and the reading near perfect. Other outstanding moments were Douglas Dunn's 'Removal from Terry Street', Jenny Joseph's 'Warning', 'Birmingham Says Sorry' by Fraser Grace, and 'The Lads' by Eleanor Brown. There was also highly imaginative use of shadow-play for A.A. Milne's 'Lines and Squares'. Less successful were the elements of dance. These were not well choreographed, and were further blighted by the limitations of the dancers' skill and experience, but thankfully this was only a minor part of the whole performance.

The energy which was sustained throughout the major part of the show was lost in the last fifteen minutes or so. Not only was the performance slightly over-long, but the end material focused largely on some tagged on Christian commentary and, apparently, exhortations to 'smile'. Given that the preceding material had covered extreme urban poverty, Northern Ireland and other major social and political issues, this seemed ill judged, and would have been unforgivable in a professional performance.

Having said that, I was absorbed and entertained for most of the show, very impressed by the skills of many of the cast, and by the interpretations of poems and songs. I hope Credo produce more work for future festivals in Hull, and recommend their work to anyone looking for performance which is fresh and innovative.

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Maggie Hannan is the festival's resident web site critic.
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