When lockdown came, like students up and down the country, The National Youth Theatre’s Playing Up Company found their training had moved online. Such a move could very well have hindered and stifled creativity, but the release of Tiny Dancers on YouTube proves that just the opposite is true. This collection of sketches made entirely in lockdown, manages to be as innovative as it is absurd, and disturbing as it is funny.
Watching Tiny Dancers it’s easy to forget the challenges that the company would have faced in creating scenes where members of the company appear together, but are in fact apart. It has been incredibly well edited together, scenes have been filmed in such a way that they look like the actors are in the same room, but each scene also transitions to the next in a fully connected way.
Written by Isley Lynn and devised by the company, the theme of being together but apart feeds in to each scene in some shape or form; there’s a couple eating a meal together over Facetime, a scenario that will surely have become familiar to many, while in another, new technology allows you to communicate with the dead.
Medical procedures, space flights, a murder, almost every genre imaginable gets to play a part in this production, and as each scene ends you find yourself with a flourish of expectation on what could follow next. Director Milli Bhatia has woven these disparate tales together, while the company brings them to life with strong and committed performances.
The themes tackled throughout the production are those that will resonate most strongly with young people, love and death feature prominently, but so do some of the challenges that inevitably come with growing up and facing an ever changing world.
Creating Tiny Dancers during lockdown is in itself worth commending, but to have created a production of such high quality is astonishing. Everyone involved, especially the young performers, should feel incredibly proud of the final result, because even apart, they have created something wonderful together.
Main Image: The National Youth Theatre Playing Up Company