The Marlowe
Youth Voice members review production Is My Microphone On? during NT Connections Festival 2023

Youth Voice members review production Is My Microphone On? during NT Connections Festival 2023

Every year Connections sees the National Theatre commission 10 new plays as part of a nationwide youth theatre festival, bringing together some of the UK’s most exciting writers with the theatre-makers of tomorrow. From Friday 5- Sunday 7 May The Marlowe hosted seven youth companies from the South East in our Studio with their staging of one of these plays.

We invited our Youth Voice advisory group to watch and provide their reflections on one of the shows. We are delighted to share the reviews of two Youth Voice members on Simon Langton Grammar School’s production of Is My Microphone On?

Production photo of two boys and one girl around a microphone.

Photo by Tim Stubbings

I watched the inspiring Is My Microphone On? on the Friday 5 May and it left me thinking about my past actions that have potentially impacted our beautiful, vast and wondrous world. By addressing the audience directly and asking questions about how we can stop destroying our planet, it powerfully emphasised the consequences of our actions and how potentially in the past, many people disregarded our magnificent Earth.

By using familiar and everyday settings, the cast helped the audience to associate these global issues to their own lives. An example of this is the breakfast setting where a quick conversation foregrounded, within a recognisable sibling relationship, the impact of climate change. This drew the audience into the differences between the younger generation and the older generations’ opinion of climate change.

The greatest strength of the play was that it centred around the ‘microphone’, which meant the actors could be heard clearly, perhaps to summarise the most important messages of the play. This also allowed the cast to use repetition, again in a recognisable setting of a sound check where we are usually not thinking about anything in particular, which shows that we need to have climate change as a prominent issue in the back of our minds at all times. This allowed the audience to see the lack of progress being made with this human-made problem. Nearing the end of the play, a young child, no older than five years old, came out to use the microphone, which showed how even from such a young age, this negative change in the ozone layer, creates fear.

Issy Moir

Production photo of a group of teenagers standing facing the audience on a stage. They are in a semi-circle formation around a girl who has her arms raised slighty.

Photo by Tim Stubbings

I really enjoyed the performance and thought it had a very strong impact on the people watching. The cast achieved this by addressing and speaking towards the audience and when there was dialogue so it was obviously aimed at the audience. This can be hard to pull off, but the actors did it perfectly. They picked up on different groups in the audience and had something to say to each. As a young person, I felt welcomed in the eyes of the performers, and felt onside with them when they directed things to older audience members, although we all sat together.

I loved the microphone off centre to the middle of the stage as they established from the start that every time someone spoke into it it would be an important message and completely managed to switch our attention away from the stage in seconds just with lighting and sound. There were many different aspects in the play that surprised me and mixed it up such as one of the actors dancing along the front of the stage. I was impressed with the diversity that was clearly shown. The repeated use of the words “mum” and “dad” built up the stress and anguish that was behind the play and I could feel the tension in the audience as many were the parents of the actors. One thing I would pick up on is that when they were bouncing from word to word the breaks in between meant the sentences slightly lost meaning. The overall intent of the show however was clear and I was impressed at the projection and confidence of difficult words, especially from the younger actors.

Grace Sheanon