What makes young people connect or disconnect to the communities they have grown up in? This is just one of the far-reaching questions posed by the challenging and moving Castaways.

Written by Atiha Sen Gupta, directed by Yasmin Sidhwa and brilliantly performed by its dynamic young cast, this is a play that doesn’t provide answers but forces us to think, and to think hard, about how our society values its young people who are, after all, one of its greatest resources and our best hope for the future.

The scene opens with three 17 year olds, all best mates, about to sit exams in which they are expected to excel. A sudden death changes things overnight.

Told through an innovative mix of dialogue, monologue and music, the play weaves complex threads into a compelling story of alienation and breakdown of trust which causes the friends to take very different paths.

In the case of Sam (Jonathan Clarke-Hesson) it means converting grief into anger which then has to find someone or something to be directed against. For Kieran (Andy Greaves) the sight of a placard at a protest rally sparks deep unease about his previously held beliefs and leads to some extremely moving soul-searching. But it is for Asha (Yasmin Ahsanullah) the sensible one of the three, that the consequences are most shocking and tragic.

Castaways was developed through workshops for schools, colleges and community groups by Yasmin Sidhwa’s Mandala Theatre Company; and, with the combined elements of Atiha Sen Gupta’s thought-provoking script, Nomi Everall’s inspired set and audio-visual design and the energy and authenticity of the young people’s performances, it is Yasmin’s powerful vision, compassion and commitment to change that makes this such an unforgettable and life-changing production.

Castaways returns to Oxfordshire in the autumn, at Asthall Manor, Burford on Friday September 7 and the Cornerstone, Didcot, on September 20.