Just by Ali Smith



Piccolo, Assembly Gardens, Edinburgh

At a time when arts provision in state schools is under real threat, it is heartening to see what amazing opportunities can be created for students when a team of dedicated educators goes all out to show what theatre can be.

Corelli is a school-based theatre company, with the not inconsiderable benefit of being attached to Greenwich Theatre. Clearly, this gives them access to professionals across the board, not least to their patron, the wonderful Scottish writer Ali Smith. Her play, Just, was originally penned for the National Theatre Connections programme, and it was she who suggested a revival by the young company. And what an excellent suggestion that was.

It’s a fascinating play all about conformity, and what we choose to be offended by. This is a Stepford world, where Waitrose shoppers are always presumed innocent and outsiders are guilty by default. Everything is very nice exactly as it is, and anyone who threatens the status quo is immediately killed.

Corelli Theatre Company’s young actors certainly do the piece justice (if you’ll excuse the pun). The ensemble work is deftly choreographed, the terrifying Ukip-coloured crowd moving and speaking with impressive precision and control. And the leads have been very well cast too; Edie Friar, as Victoria, is particularly good, an appealing rebel determined to stand up for what she knows is right.

Lucy Cuthbertson (director) and Shermaine Slocombe (producer/choreographer) can be justifiably proud of what they have achieved. The youngsters in their care have been given opportunities here that all children should enjoy. Theatre really is for everyone; drama does matter, and – at Corelli College at least – a new generation of performers is being offered a chance to shine.

4 stars

Susan Singfield

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