Folk was one of the kindest-hearted shows I’ve seen in my four years at St Andrews. It’s been a long time since I’ve left a theatre here with such a warm buzz in my heart, having laughed till I cried. From the cosy set design with every shelf dressed with perfectly messy bric-a-brac, to Joey Baker’s choice to have Joseph Kitching strumming on his guitar as the audience entered, I really felt like one of the motley crew welcomed into Winnie’s front room.
Cocktail dress on, champagne drunk, 3 course Hotel Du Vin meal enjoyed – I cannot deny that my evening was well spent at Till Death Do Them Part: the Fine Food and Dining Society’s immersive murder mystery dinner. The evening’s success rested heavily on the improvisation skills of the 6 main actors – Molly Williams, Caelan Mitchell-Bennett, Minoli de Silva, Bennett Hunecke, Kate Stamoulis and Sasha Gisbourne (aided by photographers, wedding planners and hotel staff who were indispensable to the immersion – in particular Mary Byrne, the ‘host from the hotel’, did such a great job that I thought she worked for Hotel Du Vin until she was presented with flowers at the end of the night!). We were first welcomed into a reception chamber in which the actors slowly began to mingle with the assembled guests. Special mention must be made of Williams and Mitchell-Bennett who adeptly dealt with every single question thrown at them, providing seamless characterisation. The atmosphere was warm and the excitement tangible (I heard many a whisper of “he/she’s gonna die, I bet you”). Sure enough, as the Bride and Groom toasted to the occasion, the latter bent double in a realistic choking fit and we were all shepherded desperately out of the reception room and through to the dining room, accompanied by promises of “yes, I’ll call the police in a minute”.
The Great Gatsby, with its stunning eloquence, complex characters and mirage of excess, is not ideally suited for stage adaptation. The text of the play relies too heavily upon the poeticism of Nick’s monologues to bridge the gaps between haphazardly strung together key scenes from the book. Therefore, this must have been an incredibly difficult piece for the whole team to have worked with, and the limitations placed upon the actors and director because of the script were evident throughout this production.