The Beauty Manifesto
Exit 25 Theatre School West Yorkshire Playhouse
“Difference is unacceptable”, preaches The Beauty Manifesto, a strict set of commandments that the characters in this new play live their lives by.
It’s a familiar notion to the young actors from Brighouse’s Exit 25 Theatre School, who have grown up in a world of airbrushed magazine covers and size zero models.
Nell Leyshon’s script, commissioned for the National Theatre’s Connections programme, satirises these 21st century ideas of beauty by imagining a dystopian future where teenagers are rounded up on their 16th birthdays for routine cosmetic surgery.
Jasmine and her younger sister Chloe are ambassadors for the manifesto and their father is the chief cosmetic surgeon.
But while Jasmine has already completed her transformation, Chloe isn’t so sure she wants to go through with hers.
Convinced by rebellious Silas that she is beautiful the way she is, the two plot their escape – but the regime won’t let them go without a fight.
It was a dynamic and impressive performance by the 14-strong cast, interspersed with well-placed bursts of electronic music and robotic dance sequences that highlighted the extreme, production-line conformity the play berates.
The show was originally performed at Halifax Town Hall in February, where you can imagine the theme of young people rebelling against the establishment was even more pronounced.
West Yorkshire Playhouse is the biggest venue the group has ever performed at, and it’s rare for actors to grace its stage so early in their careers.
Watching this talented and professional cast rise to the challenge, though, you get the feeling it won’t be long before they’re back.