Witness to rites of passage

16th August 1996 at 01:00
For youth and educational theatre, the Fringe is a rite of passage from wannabe to "been there, done it, made the teeshirt" cool. And for the handfuls of audience who endorse their passage, their gratitude is touchingly sincere.

The morning spectators for Noah's Point, for example, are greeted with a glass of wine. "Bottled exclusively for Wycliffe College" read the label. I took my seat musing on the school that sends the sixth form theatre studies set 300 miles up the motorway with enough Headmaster's Choice for the Moray House Theatre.

If the play, with its constant flashback and changing locations, is more suited to radio, then the challenge to the players is the greater, to create the sense of place. The A-level results are out this week; they have passed their viva with acclamation.

West Lothian Youth Theatre is old enough to have players of 21 and the experience of the company is adding some style to Evil Devil Elvis, a rock musical that weds the stories of Cinderella and Faust.

Ella, as played and sung by Eilidh MacDonald, wants to have a ball, and trades her soul to the Devil who, you notice, is very nearly an anagram of Elvis. There is no mistaking Derek Elsby's sulky pelvis-grinding, however, nor resisting his stage charm.

Ed Robson directs this high-quality company in this easy-gliding morality by Roderick Stewart. Gordon Dougall as musical director must take credit for a rock score that supports the story.

But, as with all good youth theatres, the final credit goes to the 24 players, especially the wordless and the walk-ons.

Is there life after college and youth theatre? That is what Tinderbox are trying to find out. Don't try to remember the name, it is merely a flag of convenience for some splendid final year students at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, writing, directing, acting and managing, in Constant Stranger.

Their passion and fury are well exercised by a text that stretches everyone and makes them ready to share an emotional crisis with someone, even the audience, if there is no-one else. They can all do the business, no doubt about it, the question is, even with Lottery money, will they be allowed to?

Wycliffe College: Noah's Point. Moray House Theatre West Lothian Youth Theatre: Evil Devil Elvis. Famous Grouse House RSAMD: Constant Stranger. Harry Younger Hall

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