Chichester's new tyrant speaks...
If you want to imagine Axel, the villain of the piece in the latest show from Chichester Festival Youth Theatre, think “Hitler mixed with Elton John gone wrong!”, says Tom Lunn.
17-year-old Tom is playing him – and having great fun playing him – in Crossing Lines, a new play by Anna Ledwich which runs from August 17-24 as a promenade performance in central Chichester.
The play imagines Chichester as a city under threat. Borders are collapsing. Communities uprooted. People are on the move. There is only one route to safety and only one means of communication, via the airwaves… but can they be trusted?
Stories connect across time and across technologies as history haunts the present and the city’s young race to escape the dark forces poised to destroy the country they know. Using audio technology and live action, the performance will take you through the streets of Chichester asking: can an individual alter history by changing the channel?
Locations include Chichester Cathedral, Pallant House Gallery, The Novium Museum and the Bishop’s Palace Gardens. The audience will follow the action on foot.
As Tom explains: “Axel is the West Sussex captain of the National Brit Corps which is essentially a totalitarian party which has taken over by means unknown. They are bringing in all sorts of dangerous policies. Britain is at war again, and Axel is a character symbolising every single bigot there has ever been. He is a very powerful character with very controversial views, but at the same time he has an air of instability. He is described as slightly schizophrenic. He also brings an air of showbusiness to it all. It is the way Anna has written it. He isn’t repressed. He has extreme power and he is very, very flamboyant. He is a showman. I have been told to imagine aspects of Hitler mixed with Elton John gone wrong. It is a very interesting mix, something you wouldn’t see elsewhere in terms of villains. He is great fun to play. There are a lot of aspects to it. It is all about exercising his total control and power.”
Tom is currently in the sixth form and is hoping to apply to study life sciences: “But the theatre is so important. It is something that I will always want to do.”
Tom has been with Chichester Festival Youth Theatre for six years now, from the end of primary school. This will be his second summer show with them, but he has also been in a number of Christmas shows.
Among the most memorable was A Christmas Carol in which he played the goose boy: “It was a small part, but it was a brilliant way to start – and everyone knows the goose boy in A Christmas Carol: “I think in Chichester we have got such a brilliant space to perform in, but obviously as a promenade performance, this will be something quite different. I did Running Wild which was a promenade production at Cass, but this will be different with a much more urban setting.”
There is no formal seating. The audience will be required to stand during the scenes. However, there will be limited seating at each location for those with access requirements.