"An Entertaining and Original Production"
by Paul Ackroyd for remotegoat on 01/07/17

Tribe, the new play currently being performed at London Theatre Workshop in the City, started life as a Skype conversation between the authors Brandon Force and Matthew McCray. They wanted to explore themes in children's literature that intersect with imperialism and power and seized upon the history of scouting as their vehicle.

The setting is a summer camp by the 9th Hoddeston Scout troop in Missouri who are taking part in a Scout competition. Since they have insufficient members for a full team they have had to recruit two female Scouts from another troop introducing a gender dimension into the troop dynamics and the fact that one of the two girls is a Muslim further challenges the traditional precepts on which the Scout movement was originally founded.

The play starts with an introduction by Lord Robert Baden Powell himself, the founder of scouting, played by Robert J. Clayton. He reappears periodically throughout the play, explaining his founding philosophy and there are frequent references to his famous book "Scouting for Boys". The underlying theme of the play is how these highly traditional values can adapt and play out to a modern generation but the majority of the action is a highly entertaining and believable characterisation of teenagers of today and those who seek to guide them.

The set upstairs above the New Moon Pub is an effective depiction of a forest scene with timber cladding, broken branches leaves and foliage. The acting space is limited and the director Matthew McCray is to be congratulated on an extremely effective use of the space as the various actors set up the numerous short scenes. The acting was of universally high quality. In addition to his appearances as Baden Powell Robert J. Clayton played the troop leader Scott , whose son Charlie (Ross Virgo) is also in the troop and whose personal problems at home interject and disrupt his ability to inspire the values to which he aspires. Marcus Churchill played Finn, his deputy, who being rather more aware of the challenges of much of modern life to the founding values, was an effective counterweight to the domineering Scout leader. The six young actors who played the Scouts were excellent, although playing teenagers rather younger than themselves, they very effectively depicted the angst, insecurity and false bravado of young people starting to find themselves. It is invidious to pick out any for special mention but I did like Georgia Maskery as the feisty Julie, determined to give the boys a run for their money, and Aaron Phinehas Peters as Simon, whose as a modern coloured American kid introduced yet another problematic element into Baden Powell's vision.

This was a superb piece of ensemble acting, with the cast moving rapidly around from scene to scene and the pace never faltered. The text, nicely populated with traditional Scout Songs, was tightly written and always entertaining although the relevance of some of the interjected scenes from Peter Pan, Tom Sawyer and Star Wars was difficult to fathom at times . If you are in the region of Leadenhall market sometime next week do spend an evening upstairs at the New Moon Pub: it will be well worthwhile

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