Latest winner in Harrogate Theatre’s Young Reviewers

Harrogate Theatre young reviewer Megan Gilbert. (Picture by Rob Booker Photography)
Harrogate Theatre young reviewer Megan Gilbert. (Picture by Rob Booker Photography)

Organised by Harrogate Theatre in conjunction with the Harrogate Advertiser Series, the latest crop of students from across our district in the Young Reviewers Scheme have put their writing skills to the test by reviewing The Grand Gesture, a satirical drama which ran as part of the theatre’s succcessful All Points North festival. The review judged the best follows below. It’s the work of student Megan Gilbert of The Grammar School at Leeds.

Northern Broadsides presents The Grand Gesture, Harrogate Theatre

Suicide, songs and a whole host of stereotypes – Northern Broadside’s latest production The Grand Gesture, freely adapted from Nikolai Erdman’s The Suicide, has great promise.

It packs in tension, wonderful dark comedic moments and a brilliant performance from Michael Hugo as ‘our hero’ Simeon Duff.

McAndrew’s The Grand Gesture has been transported from its original setting in a tenement building in Soviet Russia to a lowly boarding house in the UK’s North West.

Simeon Duff is finding it difficult to cope with being jobless, penniless and is generally hopeless so decides it would be best to end it all.

Cue an onslaught of characters hoping his death will benefit them in some way. It’s a social commentary on how the individual is a commodity, as one of the songs puts it, ‘He’s our Simeon, your Simeon, everyone’s Simeon Duff.’

It’s not a bad concept. Unfortunately, the first act needs a good editing eye. Over-long and littered with over-the-top comedic acting, it leaves you quite worn out by the interval.

Also, many of McAndrew’s characters lack depth and their extreme caricature means that, chances are, you’ll have seen them before: the lecherous landlord, the drunken priest and the eccentric intellectual.

Yet at the heart of the production sits a stunning performance from Michael Hugo, who expertly balances great comic timing with subtle emotionalism.

He carries the show and has a depth of understanding for his character that some of the supporting cast lack. Credit must also go to Angela Bain whose musical number, in the style of an Irish jig, is one of the side-splitting highlights of the production.

Though flawed, The Grand Gesture, which is now touring the UK, is redeemed by some great comedic moments and definitely worth a watch.