FOR more than two hours in St Ives every evening in mid July, hoodlums, gangsters and their molls ran riot in St Ives Burgess Hall.

Worry not, it was not a town riot but an ambitious and most successful production from the St Ives Youth Theatre (SIYT). Their latest offering of Bugsy Malone was set in the USA in the 1920s where speakeasies (illegal bars) offered an alternative from the dryness of an alcohol-free society in the prohibition era.

The scene was set and the show launched into an energetic performance by the young theatre company.

Set in a major US city it traced the fortunes of Bugsy Malone and a motley collection of mafioso associates involved in many kinds of racketeering. Prohibition there may have been, but inhibition was certainly not on the agenda for the cast. There was great choreography, some of it bordering on ballet, performed on a small sub-stage. This was a delicate cameo placed amongst the “mayhem and murder” of the times.

Meanwhile back on the main stage splurge guns (pumping out foam) and custard pies took their toll on the rival gangs with all the actors maintaining their American accents and body language right up to their demise by pie or foam. Inept cops tried – with outstanding incompetence – to outwit the gangs bringing great amusement to the audience.

Not content with superb acting, the cast of 59 actors also carried out some 35 scene changes whilst the band played on.

This was a meticulous and shining performance and the cast made the music come alive.

The St Ives Youth Theatre is not just a group of young people who turn up for rehearsals and performances. As if that was not enough, they also raise funds by packing groceries and in one case carrying out the Pathfinder March.

Let those who criticise today's youth come along to one of the SIYT performances – they'd eat their words when they witness talent, application and discipline on show.

Very Well Done

PETER BAKER

St Ives