EACH year, the National Theatre commissions ten new plays especially to be performed by teenagers and 300 youth companies are selected to perform them. Ilkley Playhouse’s Greenroom students were lucky (and talented) enough to be chosen to perform this wonderfully abstract piece, (Circle Dreams Around) The Terrible, Terrible Past by Simon Longman.

As an ensemble piece, the play enabled all 21 of the actors to have an interesting and entertaining part to play – and entertain it did. This play is written as a dream – disjointed ideas with bizarre and unconnected characters walking through at unexpected moments. There are characters without explanation - a butcher wielding a cleaver and dragging a human-form dummy, someone who’s lost a shoe, campers in a field at the end of a party, discussing why they weren’t invited and why they wouldn’t have wanted to go. Chickens fall from the sky and are carefully buried with tombstones, fruit and vegetables rain down. A careers advisor is so stuck in Victorian times that he can only advise students to make candles, climb chimneys or go down mines and one poor lad is forced to cut off limbs with a giant pair of scissors!

Confused? Yes of course. All dreams are confusing and this play exploits that to the max and what makes this work so well is that it is entirely relatable. Which of us hasn’t woken up relieved that we haven’t stolen, murdered, lost something, kissed someone? The confusion in dreams that is felt when we try to work out how many of something we need or what a letter says that we’ve had to wait for – all of this is here. And then take another step back and suddenly we understand that this is about teenage worry about their futures and what jobs they’ll be able to do. They worry about whether eating meat is ethical and if being a butcher is an acceptable career. They worry about why they haven’t been invited to a party and who they have missed out on seeing or what they’ve missed out on doing. They question some of the fundamentals of life itself – everything from ‘Is a crab a fish?’, to ‘Who should I love?’

This was a slick production with a very well-disciplined cast. Fantastic use is made of mobile phones to create light dances or shooting stars with the torches is blended in; uniform pro- bags enable each of the actors – who remain on the stage throughout - to have everything they need to hand. Finally, the actors made their own sound-scape with excellent use of voice to add atmosphere and effects.

Next ‘on tour’ to York Theatre Royal on the 30th April, this would be well worth the trip. Well done to all the young actors involved and of course, to their directors, Andrew Leggott and Lisa Debney.