Those lucky enough to get on one of the promenade performances of Papertown were in for a memorable treat. A new, large scale piece from YEP (Young Everyman and Playhouse), once more it opened up a world of fun and imagination, utilising the talents of a wide range of up-and-coming performers, writers and technicians.
Beginning in the bar area of Camp and Furnace, we met Steph, a young girl who started to tell the audience about the pressures of her life, always distracted by social media and a constantly beeping phone demanding her opinion on the big – and not so big – issues of the day. Confused and unsettled by the endless barrage of information, she wishes it would all just stop. In the middle of her rant, she fell against two huge double doors, and stumbled, Willy Wonka style, into a whole different world.
She then invited the audience to follow her into Papertown, described as a somewhere created to be perfect – a place where there are no problems, no decisions, no information overload, a simple place where you no longer need to think. More like a set in a TV studio than any conventional theatre space, the huge white paper walls moved to reveal different parts of the town. In Papertown, everyone wears grey, and every day is exactly the same. The audience was led by the town’s wardens to watch short scenes in the town’s high school, offices and playgrounds, meeting the children of the town as they awaken to the possibility that there might be more to life.
The production was devised and performed by YEP’s Young Actors, for the first time joining forces with the Young Writers, who scripted the play. Technical and design students from LIPA designed the large scale production and stage managed the show.
A little bit Pleasantville, a little like M Night Shyamalan’s The Village, although it explored well-worn themes of teenage rebellion and the struggle for identity in quite a simplistic way, it did so with a charm, inventiveness and enthusiasm that came with quite the feelgood factor.