Burnley Youth Theatre's new play has bone-chilling bite

This boundary-pushing theatre group is never afraid of biting off more than it can chew - and its latest show on suicide is as difficult to swallow as ever.
The cast of Byteback's new show, Dead People Don't Have Secrets. (s)The cast of Byteback's new show, Dead People Don't Have Secrets. (s)
The cast of Byteback's new show, Dead People Don't Have Secrets. (s)

Byteback Theatre is returning to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with its original production, Dead People Don’t Have Secrets. But first up will be a sneak preview for audiences here in Burnley.

“Expect the unexpected,” said cast members Lewis Pugh, Matthew Barnett and Liam Cavanagh (all 17).

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Chameleons of rebellious theatre, the group has shed its usual quirky and playful skin to reveal a darker soul devouring complex and hard-hitting themes.

In an outpour of shame and anger, a whirlwind of grief and secrets turn the lives of loved ones upside down after a group of strangers end their lives.The play, inspired by the unexplained clusters of suicides which have hit headlines in recent years, examines the driving forces leading a group of strangers over the edge.

“We’ve never tackled these issues in such a dark way before,” said the trio of actors. “There have been times when cast members have been taken aback because of how intense the scenes are.

“But these themes are real to people and at some point everyone in the audience will see themselves in the show.”

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And while Byteback has departed from its usual theatrical tone, its experimental and artistic approach is as strong as ever: physical theatre, original writing and spoken word are powerfully woven together in this dark tale exploring death, loneliness and secrets. This sensitive piece uses choreography and a harrowing soundtrack to shine light on the impact of suicide and sexual assault.

Byteback is the brainchild of Burnley Youth Theatre: born in 2009, its members first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012 with Three Words, a subtle melding of the silly, the surreal and the sinister. Last year, a cast of 14 returned to Scotland with The Curious Sole of Luna Cobbler, a quirky piece of visual theatre.

“This new show, however, is very mentally different to anything we’ve done before,” said Director Karen Metcalfe. “In the eight years I’ve worked here, we’ve never done anything like this. It will keep audiences guessing all the way through.”

Suitable for ages 16 and above, the show will be performed at Burnley Arts Centre, Queen’s Park Road, on Friday, July 28th, beginning at 7-30pm.

For tickets, please visit www.burnleyyouththeatre.org or call the box office on 01282 458655.