The Alibis

In The Alibis, staged as a radio play, eccentric billionaire J Leslie Arlington is murdered, and Detective Casey Neptune is determined to find the culprit. However, Neptune’s efforts are hampered as the suspects are reluctant to disclose their alibis… because they were all committing other outrageous crimes at the time!

It’s always a poignant moment when the more senior members of a Youth Group spread their wings and move away – but it is also an opportunity for the younger or less experienced members to grow and develop as performers.

That time is now for Studio Youth Theatre – with the added challenge of these rehearsals being disrupted by Covid in one way or another. However, SYT have risen to the occasion and show that, although they may be a little rough around the edges, they are diamonds in the rough with a very bright future ahead of them.

Radio-style productions can test even the most seasoned theatre performer – there really is nowhere to hide when your set is a black stage with nothing more than a trio of microphones, each flagged by two music stands, as your set dressing.

The actors may have the script in front of them, but it is an underrated skill in lifting the words off the page and into the audience’s imagination, bringing dialogue to life and creating vivid pictures in your mind. Deliberately closing my eyes at times, the young cast succeeded in doing just that as they switched between being interviewed by the Detective and the flashbacks of their alibis – and well done for handling the scripts so silently!

It seems churlish to pick out individuals from such an ensemble production, but Alfie Gilfillan showed lovely poise and stage presence as Detective Neptune, while Riley Adams embraced his trio of characters with a natural aptitude for comedy and Bianca Barbour was very entertaining as she juggled ice-cream sandwiches and hamsters. My apologies to the actor who played their lightsabre swinging child for not catching her name, but she had enchanting charisma and confidence with each character she portrayed, and Maddy Ryalls’ Aussie accent was impressive.

With varying levels of experience, some performers were more physically animated while others had very expressive voices, but they all seemed to relax and move more naturally in character as the evening progressed. The more accomplished young actors took on multiple roles, creating distinctive and comical personalities. The pace and projection were generally very good, although occasionally would have benefitted from slowing slightly, as at times it felt a little rushed, and taking care with diction when speaking quieter or using accents. Subdued lighting, the right music and well-timed sound effects added to the overall ambience.

Overall, this was a very entertaining evening. I love a good audio drama – and Studio Youth Theatre brought us a cracking good comical one!