Half the battle with youth theatre productions is choosing the right play, one to challenge the young players while giving as many as possible stage experience.

This York Youth Theatre double bill fulfilled that criteria in different ways.

Edward Bond's The Children was actually written to be performed by young people although its content and approach is decidedly adult. Bonfire Night and Allotments were monologues adapted for a large cast.

A young girl throws bricks at her favourite doll in The Children's opening scene. Her mother asks her to burn down a house. Her friends help her, a girl inside the house dies and they go on the run. They pick up a mysterious tramp who kills all the children.

This is the sort of play that makes Greek tragedy look like a Whitehall farce. And it's wilfully obscure. You sit there for 99 per cent of the time thinking, "What's it all about?" before it all (well, most) becomes clear in the dying moments.

Director Owen Calvert-Lyons' production marshalled the cast effectively to produce some startling moments and neat performances. Both halves of the double shared out lines among the performers and, in both, there were moments when the cueing wasn't tight enough and pauses crept in.

After the wilfully obscure Bond play, it was a relief to turn to Bonfire Night and Allotments as they were given a fun visual treatment by director Jill Adamson.

Double bills of these plays and Mr Puntila And His Matti were presented in The Studio for three nights (Nov 30-Dec 2).