The Lieder Youth Theatre
Innocent child or a stone cold killer?
IF nothing else, the Lieder Youth Theatre’s latest production, Vernon God Little, demonstrates the immense talent of some of this town’s finest young actors. Everybody in the play was aged between 16 and 24 years old, with young Sebastien Thornton-Walker the outlier at just 10-yearsold, and there wasn’t a dodgy performance amongst them, with leading man Mark Churchill demonstrating an acting ability far beyond his years!
The play is set in Texas and deals with one of the hardest things for most to understand – what drives an otherwise innocent child to take a gun into the school yard and murder their classmates.
It starts by introducing us to an under privileged trailer park boy Vernon Little (Churchill), who is sitting cold and alone in a prison cell. His best friend Jesus (Jesse Parsons) has just killed 16 of their classmates before turning the gun on himself in a shocking high school massacre, which has left the community shocked, angry and looking for somebody to blame.
For local law enforcement that person is Vernon. Sheriff Porkorney (Josh Waters) is convinced that Jesus did not act alone and when it is discovered that his young sidekick, and only friend, was not in class at the time the shots were fired he becomes fixated on the boy.
As tunnel vision sets in, circumstantial evidence becomes hard facts and the young man is forced to stand trial in the court of public opinion. The play deals with bullying, child exploitation, drugs, teenage alcoholism, sex, sexual abuse and socioeconomic inequity, showing how hard it can be for the kids that society has given up on.
It also deals with the media’s obsession with violence through the role of Eulalio Ledesma, which was brilliantly portrayed by Kieran Milward, turning the sleazy wannabe journo into a door to door salesman of human misery, and the subsequent Reality TV shows which are later inspired.
This show is definitely not suitable for small children, containing strong adult themes and very coarse language. However, it is by no means gratuitous and would be relevant for a mature aged teenage audience, maybe 15 or 16. The overall feel of the play is a little bit like a David Lynch film, it is surrealistic to say the least and bizarre to the say the most, with random musical interludes and some caricature characters that throw a touch of comedy into the most out there scenes.
The play was loaded with fantastic performances and I was especially impressed
with the young actors’ ability to chop and change between characters
so easily, with some cast members having to play as many as seven different