REVIEW: Right Place Wrong Time

The Corpus Playroom turns into a time machine

ADC Cambridge Cambridge University Corpus Corpus Playroom Theatre

Last night, the seats of the Corpus Playroom were transformed by a small group of wonderful artists.

No more than ten (privileged) people had the chance to travel through the eyes of a British reporter to the start of the Second World War, getting to know her as she moved and thought.

What first struck me when I entered was the incredibly atmospheric set, designed by Lily Stone. It immediately transported me to the old days of the interbellum. The red rotary dial telephone, the small black typewriter, the wooden and tweed radio, vintage sepia pictures, travel trunks, a chair with a tall backrest and two wooden tables. Enough to trick your mind into thinking he’s somewhere else in time.

All this was enhanced by the lighting, arranged by Jenny Lazarus: I especially enjoyed the scenes which suggested the ideas of memory much better through the dim lighting. It managed to nurture in me, along with the voices of the actors, a peculiar nostalgia about not having lived in those times.

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The cast in rehearsal

Furthermore, the idea of writer/director Una McAllister portraying two sides of a single person on the stage was marvellous. In the first scene, old Clare Hollingworth (Cassia Price) entered the stage alongside a young and very caring man (Raphael Schmetterling). After the polite chat, a song by Fred Astaire playing on the radio as an incentive, she started remembering her youth.

Instead of being narrated, these memories would then unfold right in front of us, young Clare being portrayed by Fay Cartwright. Raphael consequently played various roles, the most significant one being of Robin Hankey, the other reporter Clare travels to Poland with in 1939, right on time to catch a sight of the first German tanks crossing the borders.

As you can see, there were scenes from outside, from inside, from the Telegraph headquarters to the Polish border. The walls of the room were unable to stop the events from unfolding in all kinds of different spaces. All throughout this adventure in the life of a female journalist of the 40s, Cassia Price played the role of Clare’s thoughts, while Fay spoke them – and, as you may already guess, they did not always coincide. At the end, we knew Clare literally inside out. Irony, deprecation, subtle differences in nuance were left unspoken to any of the men played by Raphael, but we heard them come alive through Cassia.

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Lets do the time warp again

The actors are of a talent worthy of an audience much greater than the few of us who turned up. They were so expressive, so in tune with the roles, so free in their speech and their new personality. I felt lucky to watch first class acting from artists whose names will surely be heard much more in the future.

I can find no fault able to put anyone off, I got completely carried away.

5/5 stars