Theatrical youngsters explore the dark side with new play

Adam Wilson, aged 13, Emma Chambers, aged 14, and Ben Cook, aged 13, three of the main actors in the "The Armed Man" , a play written specially for members of the Doncaster Little Theatre's Young Lit by local man Malcolm Beasley. The production hits the stage on 24th February and runs until 26th February.
Adam Wilson, aged 13, Emma Chambers, aged 14, and Ben Cook, aged 13, three of the main actors in the "The Armed Man" , a play written specially for members of the Doncaster Little Theatre's Young Lit by local man Malcolm Beasley. The production hits the stage on 24th February and runs until 26th February.
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A NEW play for children by a local writer, which made its stage debut in Doncaster last night, explores dark themes such as death and cannibalism.

The Armed Man, by Malcolm Beasley, was inspired by a medieval song - but the production at Doncaster Little Theatre by the Young Lit members is no fairytale.

The cast of "The Armed Man" , a play written specially for members of the Doncaster Little Theatre's Young Lit by local man Malcolm Beasley. The production hits the stage on 24th February and runs until 26th February.

The cast of "The Armed Man" , a play written specially for members of the Doncaster Little Theatre's Young Lit by local man Malcolm Beasley. The production hits the stage on 24th February and runs until 26th February.

The play takes as its starting point an ancient song, L’homme Arme, which was popular in the 14th and 15th centuries, and is believed to have been sung originally as part of a children’s street game.

It has also inspired renowned composer Carl Jenkins who wrote a classical piece entitled The Armed Man.

Malcolm’s play is a drama about children very much left to their own devices to survive in a city under siege in wartime, a topic with a timeless relevance.

“I have set the play in what could be any place at any time, but it reflects the courage and resilience of children everywhere,” said Malcolm.

Director Barbara Upton says the play covers 15 months of a starving city under siege - and reaches the stage where people start eating each other and one of the cast is killed.

“It is very dark, although with humorous moments, and if people like Lord of the Flies they will like this,” she said.

It features a cast of 14 children, aged 11 to 13, from all over Doncaster who have been working on the production since November.

The Armed Man is Malcolm’s third play to be performed at the Little Theatre.

Barbara added: “This has been a satisfying play to direct, not least because of the serious nature of the subject and the fact it is such a dramatic piece of writing.

“Working with the Young Lit, there are some of those lighter moments which you find when watching children at play.

“The work has been a steep learning curve for some of our young members and particularly for those who joined one week and found themselves in a play the next!”

The Armed Man is on tonight and tomorrow. Tickets are still available from the theatre on King Street.