Theatre Roundup: Week 2

Our anonymous reviewer found time in their revision schedule to see the last couple of plays on before the dreaded exams…

Agnes of God – Castle Theatre Company

4 stars

Based on haunting real life events, Agnes of God is not an easy play to watch, dealing with questions of faith, sanity and love. A relaxing night away from revision it may not be, but a great performance it definitely is.

The space itself is gripping: candles flicker around the Tunstall Chapel and the altar is resplendent with a bejewelled crucifix. With this magnificent backdrop, Jenny Walser delivers a simply stunning performance in the title role as Agnes. Small, tentative, sweet and ever so slightly terrifying, she hits the nail on the head with her interpretation of the title role, driving the play to its emotional core, especially during in her powerful hypnotism scenes.

Note: actual performance was in colour

Jess Christy and Georgie Franklin, for the most part, support Walser admirably. Despite rushing lines and, at times, appearing a lot less confident than I felt she should, Christy’s court psychiatrist ‘Martha Livingstone’ is convincingly imposing and efficiently pushes the action on with her incisive questioning, whilst Franklin’s Mother Superior glides effortlessly in and out of the story, both hindering and helping the investigation. Like Christy, Franklin occasionally relies too much on theatrical cliché in her actions and tone but, in general, delivers another accomplished performance. The direction is generally sharp (although sometimes falling for cliché), and thus also deserves commendation.

Overall, a well chosen play in a fitting location with a talented cast and a fresh creative team, Agnes of God is yet another jewel in Castle Theatre Company’s theatrical crown.

The Winter’s Tale – STAB

3 stars

The question this review should answer is not whether The Winter’s Tale is worth going to see, as now it is over, but whether or not it was worth missing watching Eurovision live for. I think it was, and it finished in time to see the bearded Austrian lady winning, so win-win perhaps!

Although the performance involves murder, hanging, baby-burning and bear mauling, thankfully there was not quite as much gore as the theatre’ companies name suggests! The acting, and indeed direction, should be commended – every actor, however tiny their role, said their lines with enthusiasm and gusto, showing that they not only knew their lines but understood them.However, particular praise should go to Danielle Oliver, as both Antigonus and Time, Beatrice Vincent (Autolycus), who was the source of the majority of the humour, and Lara Harris (Paulina).

Monochrome seems to be in

The set was sparse, but this allowed for smooth transitions and complemented the fantastic costumes – used successfully to decipher between courtiers from two different countries with red and blue sashes. It also made clear to audience the gender of a character (regardless of whether it differed from that of the actor), whilst creating hilarious disguises. The set’s large branches also received several laughs when they began to shake as a storm was approaching.

This show deserves much praise and was deserving of its healthy audience size (who had ventured away from their televisions and Eurovision!), especially considering it was the last Assembly Rooms show before exams!