A unique 'theatre church' tucked around the corner from Harrods is showcasing an adaptation of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in a bid to explore issues around knife crime.
'Wasted' stars a number of youngsters aged between 14 and 20-years-old who are at risk of falling into crime and includes two teenagers from who are being monitored by Kensington and Chelsea Council's Youth Offending Team.
The production, which starts tonight (Nov 19), is being hosted by St Saviour's church, in Walton Place, and performed by the church's in-house youth theatre company 'Intermission'.
The church started showcasing local talents eight years ago when it was revamped into a creative hub, believed to be the first of its kind to use a functioning church in the UK.
Sunday services till take place but the church has also become an important art space for talented professionals to reach new audiences.
Kensington and Chelsea resident Darren Raymond, is artistic director of Intermission. He says the murder of the Roman Emperor by his confidante Brutus is the "ultimate knife crime" enabling the actors and audience to think about the events that lead to murder.
"Our play is about the rivalry between Harvey Nicks School and Harrods High. Caesar's death is knife crime at its rawest and it allows the young people who see the play to think about why they pick up knives and do the ultimate crime," he explains.
Raymond, 27, is well placed to know about the benefits drama can have on troubled youths, having himself been jailed in 2004 for gun and drug offences. He was introduced to acting while inside and discovered a talent for the stage which he is determined to pass on to youngsters.
"Drama is a great way to explore feelings and ideas," he says. "It builds self-esteem and helps youngsters learn to communicate; many of the problems that lead to stabbings and shootings are caused by an inability to communicate. I think drama can unlock that and help people think things through."
Father Ed Olsworth-Peter, associate vicar of St Saviours, says the project is the latest success to come from Intermission – which has both a youth and professional theatre group.
"We called it Intermission, because that's the halfway point between a play and is a chance to reflect and take stock on what you have seen," he said. "That's the same for life and we often need an intermission, a chance to think about what we are doing. Our church provides that space and uses the creative arts to explore these ideas and our own spirituality, although we do not lay that on thick and our productions are cross-denominational."
Wasted is being performed every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until Dec 12. The show starts at 7.30pm and tickets cost £10 per adult and £5 for young people. See www.intermission.org.uk