YEP – Young Everyman and Playhouse – has existed in its current guise since 2012. The theatres have always been dedicated to nurturing up and coming talent, but YEP has provided opportunities like never before, collaborating with young people at every part of the theatre making process, from writing and performance to tech and marketing. Only trouble was, until now, YEP had nowhere to call home.
They have staged a range of inventive promenade shows at venues across the city in the last two years and their enthusiasm has always been infectious – but you get the feeling everything was leading up to this: The Grid, the first new devised work on the Everyman stage. Incorporating a cast of more than 50 performers under 25, a collective of writers and who-knows-how-many others beavering away behind the scenes, this mammoth effort was a statement of intent that YEP were not about to waste.
Like previous production Papertown, The Grid addressed the pressures of living in a digital world and pondered existence away from it. Beginning and ending with two genuinely thrilling ensemble scenes, the cast zombified under the control of the titular Grid, in between short scenes followed the fates of a handful of characters adapting to life having fallen off-grid – think Google Glass meets the Matrix as an inescapable way of life, a constant mass of hashtags, likes and group thought. The set – a blinding gate of bright lights, an overhead tangle of sci fi-esque detritus, was brilliant and effective; the soundtrack perfectly captured the energy of the piece. Funny, touching and intelligent, The Grid was made for the space with dedication, passion, and gratitude, and it showed.
The cast rotated over several performances, and The Grid perfectly demonstrated one of YEP’s absolute strengths – a real sense of generosity behind the creativity it is harnessing; creating a large-scale yet intricate tale that at once tested its performers and behind-the-scenes contributors, while entertaining a wider audience.
Photograph by Brian Roberts