★★★ | The Freedom Of Freewill, Doncaster Cast Theatre

Doncaster has a rising star. Nestled amongst the urban redevelopment of the town centre, proudly placed at the side of a large open space is the Cast Theatre. There is little doubt that this impressive little theatre is going to be the centrepiece of Doncaster’s growing cultural scene. Providing a mixed programme of everything from comedy to jazz, modern dance to international acts, Cast also has one significant thing at heart – the community.

TGUK was kindly invited along to a performance of “The Freedom of Freewill”, am abstract piece of contemporary dance, which was thought provoking and visually interesting; exploring the best and worst of human nature. Asking the question about what is freedom, and is one person’s freedom actually another person’s oppression, the show combined music, dance and visual imagery to confront the audience with images and themes which pushed at comfort zones and garnered a genuine reaction from the audience. The six young local dancers were talented and contorted into a number of shapes using their bodies, challenging the audience and forcing different viewpoints to be considered. The show is now embarking on a European tour, but it was a credit to the young performers and the production company, Urban Conceptz Theatre, who created and produced in association with Cast Theatre.

That is where Cast Theatre is a little different. It nurtures local talent and offers an opportunity for all to be part of it – whether that is through one of their open auditions or simply as a welcome member of the audience. The venue itself is a modern and fresh looking building, all straight lines and right angles from the exterior, but inside, giving way to curved architecture and providing a visually interesting foyer, which extends the length of the building. One of the things that was immediately noticeable was the friendliness of the staff, who were more than helpful and polite. The foyer harbours a café, which provides three menus throughout the day and a selection of drinks, which is ideal for that pre-show tipple or some tapas to share with friends.

Inside the theatre itself, it is a small and intimate venue, with very comfy seats and, for those tall ones amongst us, a generous amount of leg room. The modern interior was striking and the large tubular chandelier with its neon pink lighting looked perfectly in place. The sound in the auditorium, for this performance, was crystal clear, loud and full of bass, which suited the show perfectly. The air conditioning kept an ambient temperature, whilst never being invasive and the closeness to the stage drew you right into the performance.

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Cast was an absolutely delightful venue and one which genuinely deserves the support of the local community and those in its proximity. It is the equivalent of those little independent niche cinemas that have been springing up all over the country and its blend of independent productions of song, dance, theatre and music provide for one unique venue.

Cast is a theatre which is a little different. It provides a performance venue for the community and specialises in its own productions, providing an opportunity for talent, both from the local area and beyond, to perform. They are one of the sponsors of Doncaster Pride 2014 and their venue will be the backdrop to this year’s re-launched Pride event. The team from Cast will be there on the day; alongside The Gay UK who will also be there; some come and find both of us and say hello.

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You can find out more about Cast’s upcoming productions by visiting their website (http://castindoncaster.com/ ); following them on Twitter (@castindoncaster) or on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/castindoncaster)

About the author: Paul Szabo
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.