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Taketh Me Away
Published on Tuesday, 16 August 2011

3 stars

Pleasance Courtyard (venue website)
3-14, 16-29 Aug, 3:15pm-4:15pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.
 Recommended for age 16+ only.

It’s the early 90s, and Helen is obsessed with the band Take That. We follow her through her passion, from her first glimpse of her lust objects on Top of the Pops through to a disastrous appearance with her idols on Saturday-morning pop show Live and Kicking. The three cast members all do a nice job spinning the tale, especially and flipping back and forth between various roles.

The show’s story has a few odd leaps. A large part of the plot is driven by the fact that Helen has never seen her favourite band play live, but I really didn’t know why she hadn’t. Much is made of her elaborate (and presumably expensive) collection of Take That merchandise, so I wasn’t sure what the big obstacle was preventing her from securing concert tickets.

Another slight wobble came from the climactic and devastating coincidences of her choices. Though moving and poignant, the crushing irony of the way the greatest and most terrible moments of Helen’s life collided were a little too much for my suspension of disbelief.

But despite those couple of missteps, this is a nice piece of drama about northern working-class life and the passions of a teenage girl – themes which are well realised and have a sweet, naturalistic truth to them. There is a strong grasp here of the bittersweet reality of how it feels to be young, and in the throes of that very first crush.

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