In many ways The Two Gentlemen of Verona is a testing ground for what will become Shakespeare’s toolbox: we have girl dressed as boy (a la Twelfth Night), a set of four lovers (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and we even have a Friar Laurence (Romeo and Juliet). As a work which showcases these early ideas, there is much to be interested in on an academic level. Like most people in the audience of Director Olli Gilford’s production, I had never seen or read the play, nor did I know much about it outside of a Wikipedia entry read in a bout of ‘Shakespeare Fear’. While Gilford is aware of the play’s problems, setting them out in his director’s note, the production did not do enough to compensate for the problematic text, in spite of two standout performances.
Because of the show’s emphasis on audience choice, Owl Eyes has chosen to send two reviewers to capture different experiences of the show. Each review will have its own rating.
I don’t understand quantum physics. I don’t understand string theory. I have no idea how to keep bees.
Beckett is Difficult.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was reportedly Tennessee Williams’ favourite of his plays. Concerned with the relationships enacted in a plantation home in the Deep South during the 1950s, the play allows a study of a single family and the breakdown of the relationships between the characters. A cheery play, then. Sitting in on a rehearsal in tech week, a lot of Southern accents, shouting, whiskey, and one broken leg are the overwhelming images I came away with. This is a play – and a production – unafraid to engage with serious and wholly human themes.
Long before it was an HBO film, The Normal Heart was an intensely political piece of theatre. It wanted to take its audience by the shoulders and shake them until they became politicised too. In spite of the slow changes in attitudes towards HIV and AIDS, the production team behind Mermaids’ next Byre venture remain acutely aware of the necessity for politics in the play. In fact, what is striking about this team is their desire for their production not only to entertain but to do something; to enact some sort of change or action in its audience.
Sandwiched in the middle of a successful week of Freshers’ Plays, The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband is explained perfectly in the title: a woman, on discovery that her gluttonous husband has been having an affair, kills him and, in cahoots with the women with whom he was having said affair, decides the best way to dispose of the body and wreak her final revenge is to cook him. The play itself is a tricky blend of domestic realism and absurdity, an admirable challenge for this newest bunch of St Andrews’ thespians to get their teeth into.