This admirable piece of youth theatre takes its strong narrative from Gogol’s 1835 short morality tale. The story centres on a mysterious money lender whose easy terms attracts debtors from all sections of society but, no matter what their background, they all share a common, miserable end. The demonic qualities of this usurer are transferred to his portrait, and the play begins at the point of sale of this cursed piece of art.

From then on the large, talented cast of Newbury Youth Theatre tell the grim tale of those whose poor fate it is to be associated with the portrait. The ensemble perform with zest their own adaptation of the story; combining well choreographed scenes, moments of comedy and a fresh use of accompanying music in the form of broken instruments.

The whole production is charged with a sense of the sharp, new talent that has created and leads this commendable show.

- Charlotte Pegram