Theatre Roundup: Week 7
Our anonymous reviewer goes from Gothic horror to 70s farce to Sondheim musical this week!
Frankenstein – Castle Theatre Company
Despite the pounding of dance music emanating from a nearby event in the Undie, CTC’s ‘Frankenstein’ was an enjoyable play. However, in my opinion, it never reached its true potential.
For the most part, David Knowles’ direction was effective, particularly his handling of the non-linear timeline was simple yet brilliant, and the minimal set perfectly highlighted Frankenstein’s isolation. However, staging the play in the round seemed to make the actors’ jobs more difficult and hampered the audience’s comprehension of lines in the vast Castle Great Hall. Knowles is well-known for his meticulousness, so I was surprisingly disappointed by this lack of attention to detail.
The main problem, though, was the script. Adapting a novel for the stage is never easy, and the overly descriptive dialogue often impeded the actors’ performances, which were otherwise excellent. George Rexstrew and Jenny Walser deserve particular praise, standing out in fairly small roles, and Natasha Yadav’s monster ranged from pitifully believable to awkwardly melodramatic, but overall was an admirable performance. However, it was Hugh Train who stole the show with his simultaneously chilling and sympathetic portrayal of Frankenstein himself.
Overall, I had a very enjoyable evening but couldn’t help feeling a little frustrated at what, frankly, could have been a better play.
Company – Van Mildert
Continuing the run of incredible musical offerings up on the hill, this weekend Van Mildert stunned with their raucous production of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Company’. Though lacking even an attempt at a plot, the show centres on the life of Robert, a perennial singleton among five married couples. The opening number, the title song of the show, introduces the plight of our protagonist and was performed to perfection – just the right balance of overbearing offers of help and intense pity.
Even from the first group number the leading man, Matt Green, stole the show, and this continued to be the case throughout. His rendition of ‘Marry Me a Little’ had every girl in the audience (sometimes literally) jumping up and shouting “I DO!”, whilst his final solo, ‘Being Alive’, had me half crying from the emotion and half smiling because he hit it spot on. Further mention must go to Anna Beesley and Jack Collins’ absurd wrestling, and the crazed ranting of Eleanor George. The tech team deserve high praise for executing such a large-scale college production, as do the directors Lewis Martins and Charlie Roadnight. This was a very strong performance from Van Mildert, and continues to be a great example of the talent on show on the college musical scene.
Bedroom Farce – Aidans College Theatre
Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Bedroom Farce’ analyses the trials and tribulations of love using four couples, all in a different phase of their relationship. The stage was skillfully set as three individual bedrooms, aptly conveying the distinct styles for each couple.
Kate (Izzie Price) and Malcom (Rob Collins) made a lovely on-stage couple and really embodied their hopeful, newlywed-esque characters, whose plans for a housewarming were thwarted by the marital disputes of their friends. Jess Hoff was wonderfully neurotic as Susannah and evoked a great deal of laughter from the audience with her self-help mantras. Her volatile relationship with Trevor (Ben Cushion) was realistic, in particular the fight scene which struck a good balance between comic slapstick and underlying seriousness. Trevor’s parents Delia (Idgie Beau) and Ernest (Will Hockedy) were both charming in their roles and utterly convincing – for a moment I forgot I was watching students rather than a middle-aged married couple! Nicholas McQueen played the helpless, self-pitying invalid Nick masterfully, as well as perfectly portraying the irritable husband of Jan (Anna Feroldi), who, surprisingly, was the only character I found unimpressive.
Though it took a while to get going, ‘Bedroom Farce’ definitely picked up pace as it went through and, by the end, was a very enjoyable example of expertly executed farce!