Often remaining the domain of student theatre and the more experimental fringes, devised theatre is finding more of a foothold on the Maltese scene via youth troupes such as the Teatru Manoel Youth Theatre. Sitting down to watch Masquerade’s Brainstorm at Blue Box – M Space, I couldn’t help but feel that this production was birthed directly from that movement. The fact that the cast clearly felt at home with this concept was reflected within their performances.

Attracting a healthy crowd, including several young audience members, Brainstorm managed to toe the line between appealing both to those of us past our teenage years as well as those still going through them.

While the show’s narrative about the more neurological side of escaping adolescence certainly brought on some laughs and nostalgia for the older members of the audience (those of us now consigned to mum-dance our way through life), it seemed to really resonate with the young people in the audience. It was refreshing to see young people engaged in theatre.

Would be very satisfying to see it grow and bloom on a wider stage

Tackling the neurological reasons behind teenage behaviour, the performance followed a group of teenagers –  or, more accurately, their often-derailed trains of thought. While dishing out facts about the brain and its changing chemistry, Rambert Attard, Naomi Knight, Stephen Mintoff, Emma Micallef, Gianni Selvaggi and Sandie Von Brockdorff worked well together and showed very tight teamwork.

The cast bounced around the stage taking us through various aspects of teenage life and its many changes, though I felt that the dialogue between them could have been a little stronger in places.

It’s tricky to come up with a devised text when using something as dry as neurological facts as a basis, but I would still have liked to see a little more refinement to certain areas of the script.

That said, certain interactions, such as each teen portraying their awkward parents, were genuinely funny and even touching at times.The cast contains young performers to watch out for in the future and the production was well-attended. However, I wasn’t really sure where it fit on the theatre scene. It seemed to exist in a kind of grey zone between student theatre and the heftier dramatic pieces like An Enemy of the People which took over M Space the very next weekend. Like the teenagers it portrayed, Brainstorm was striking out and trying to find its place in the world.

Finally, I realised that what I’d really like to see from this show is more of it. I am not talking about length here, either. When I think about Brainstorm, I can’t help but feel that it would do very well with a place in either a youth-based festival like ŻiguŻajg or in Valletta’s popular Science and the City event.

Petra Sant and the team at Masquerade managed to plant the seed of something with some heart (and a lot of brains). It would be very satisfying to see it grow and bloom on a wider stage.

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