Tab Roundup: Michaelmas Theatre highlights

A term filled to the brim with variety and quality


Term is now over – you may be skiing on the slopes of Val Thorens, you may be holidaying with family, or you may be sat at home with a hot chocolate and mumma's cooking (my preferred option). But surely your mind must still be thinking about that Week 1 show that blew you away, or that hilarious moment in that Week 8 panto! Now that review season is done with (for now), let's take a look back at our five best reviewed shows of Michaelmas term!

We'll begin with some Honourable Mentions (all given 4.5/5 by our reviewers): Week 0 gave us an early gem in Noah Geelan's deftly written and performed three-parter, Ham, Egg and Chips. Emmeline Downie and Corinne Clark held us in thrall in the Week 1 Corpus Late Vita & Virginia. In the Pembroke New Cellars two plays wowed – Week 3's The Maids "was one of the most powerfully staged plays I have seen in Cambridge", and The Ladies highlighted some wonderfully entertaining new writing from Alice Tyrell in Week 5. Also that week, King Charles III brought a quasi-Shakespearean shine to the ADC and Belleville offered the intimate Corpus a tense couples drama as Week 7 came in.

Now onto the Top 5 of term:

1) I'm Having a Wonderful Time in Baden-Baden (4.5/5) – Week 2 Corpus Late

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Photo Credit: Ada Günther

So why has this show been singled out from the other 4.5 rated shows? Well, firstly it was helmed by a single actor – Amelia Hills, playing Allie. The fact that Hills was able to hold the audience's attention was a mighty impressive feat, and they did it to the max, not for one second letting up. Not only this, but the script written by Jenny O'Sullivan was gorgeous, complex and challenging all at once. With themes of loneliness, gender identity and family ties, this was an outstanding example of when student writing goes very, very right indeed. It shone with force, earning itself a place in our Top 5.

2) amayonnaise (5/5) – Week 1 Corpus One Night Stand

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I did not get the singular chance to see this show, and I am gutted. Our reviewer made sure I was as jealous as could be with her review of this "evening of unadulterated laughter", from writer/performer Amaya Holman, described as having "the stage presence, charisma, and charm of one completely in her element". Covering a wide range of topics, Holman showed "comedy as being a source of hope" for one wonderful night – and if she does another, I'll be the first to snap up a ticket for sure.

3) Oh, What a Lovely War! (5/5) – Week 1 ADC Late

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"A play like this, performed in a small theatre at night, gives more to our WW1 memory than the whole Centenary parade." Certainly grand, bold praise from our Tab reviewer – and it was well deserving of that praise. The cast had "the best [voices] which I could hear so far in a musical in Cambridge," and a "minimalist and creative" take to the direction and set design put this musical above the others – both a moving piece of memorial and a brilliantly crafted show all round, this was one to watch out for from the beginning.

4) The Bacchae (5/5) – Week 8 Corpus Main

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Amelia Hills returns to the Top 5, but this time as director of the "Visceral… spiritual… electric… stunning" Euripides classic. As the term drew to a close and the Cambridge effect made everyone weary, tired and on the brink of madness, there was a ritual offering from Hills and their phenomenal cast that brought "the scream" into the Corpus Playroom. With heavy praise going to the range of the cast, moving from chorus to individuals, and the "expression of female sexuality and the power of women's rage" at front and centre, this was a truly inspired reworking of a classic for our times.

And finally…

5) The Gingerbread Man (5/5) – Week 7-8 ADC Panto

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The ADC panto is always a big event, and this was certainly no exception. I think our reviewer puts it best: "Frankly, everyone involved in this production is clearly a titan and we should probably bow down to our theatrical overlords for their immense time and effort." With a vast cast, crew and creative, this show promised a lot, and it delivered on all of its fronts. Student written by Comrie Saville-Ferguson and Dan Allum-Gruselle, this year's panto was "a festive treat" with all the elements of your classic panto executed to an impressively high level.

So what a way to round off the term! The Tab will be back in Lent to review, comment on and generally just enjoy with you all of the exciting productions coming our way in the new year. The season looks to be an awesome one, and we can't wait to share it with everyone back in Cam!