The coming of a New Year’s On the Rocks can bring with it a host of new events, with more theatre, art and music than you could shake a stick at –but a guaranteed staple has always been the Blind Mirth Sketch Show. Typically, an improv comedy group, once a year during OTR, Blind Mirth turns their talents to sketch comedy writing, bringing their wit to the masses on the Byre main stage. This year’s production, Mirth Control, while funny, lacked some of the charm of previous shows, occasionally over using tired tropes that seemed more suited to the 1970s.
Reviewing student stand up can often be a difficult proposition. For the most part it’s rare that you get the opportunity to review a full length routine, as a lot of the stand up that we see it town is a work in process, with people trying out new material in venues like Sandy’s Sundown Stand up. While the overall experience of Sandy’s is frequently great, the individual quality of people’s sets can occasionally be hit and miss – and the last thing you want to see is someone bomb on stage for 40 minutes. Luckily, Joe Irvine’s On The Rocks show Alternate was utterly charming and borderline fantastic.
Satirical, irreverent, and beautifully crafted, Just So’s production of Urinetown (The Musical) burst onto the Byre Stage during this year’s On The Rocks Festival. Directed by Ryan Hay, Urinetown balanced some outstanding set design with a number of solid performances, yet was unfortunately let down due to issues with the show’s audio and a few uneven numbers.
Our Country’s Good Interview
Rent has me a bit torn. Flawed, idealistic to the point of irritation and more 90s than a barrel full of furbies, at times it was tough to figure out why the show is so deeply embedded in the psyche of theatre-kids worldwide. Yet, just when you thought you have had enough, the show bursts in brilliance, breaking your heart into five hundred twenty five thousand, six hundred pieces. While the recent Just So Byre production had its issues, it is hard to deny the moments of pure emotion that tent-poled the show.
At its core, Lucy Prebble’s The Effect asks its audience a question – are we defined by the chemicals in our system? Directed by Louis Catliff, breaking out of his comfort zone as St Andrews Go-to-guy for 20TH Century American drama, the show alternates between the stories of Tristan (Oli Savage) and Connie (Jen Grace), who volunteers in a depression medication trial. The psychiatrist and drug company representative, Dr James (Valentine Moscovici) and Toby (Ebe Bamgboye), are overseeing the operation. In equal measures, funny and heart wrenching, Catliff’s production is certainly one of this semester’s highlights, even if it cannot fully circumvent some slight issues with the script’s ending.
It’s dark. The snow has melted. There are no more balls. Your flatmates are getting on your nerves. Revision is looming and you’ve resigned yourself to a fortnight of drudgery. Worse – your only planned form of cultural exercise consists of evenings full of “Netflix and Chill”. But wait – what is this light at the end of the tunnel? Is that – no, surely not – is that a Shakespeare play going up in the Barron Theatre this Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday? Wait – it’s not Romeo & Juliet/Macbeth/A Midsummer Night’s Dream – but Measure for Measure instead?