This weekend, the nation’s favorite play is going up in the Byre Theatre: The History Boys. This play chronicles the life of a group of students as they revise for their Oxbridge entrance exams, and the teachers who help get them there. I got the chance to ask the director of this piece, Harrison Roberts, a few questions about why he loves the play so much and what the play means in a more modern context.
I can’t say I really understand the resurgence of Agatha Christie, but she is coming back in a powerful fashion. Modern adaptations are trying to balance the camp of the older works with a darker, more realistic tone, and Rowan Wishart’s interpretation of And Then There Were None is a perfect example of this. It kept an even hand of fun and dark and managed to make a compelling, thrilling mystery out of an 80-year-old story. But there were technical inconsistencies throughout that kept it from being quite as exactly tuned as it could have been.
The more ancient a play is, the more work must be done to make it relevant. This is the fundamental struggle that any director has working with Greek Tragedy today. Gabriele Uboldi seems relatively unfazed by the concept. To him, that difficulty of making that relevant is basically the central conceit of the entire show.
It’s odd to talk about this play because it is fundamentally very odd. Blink is, for better or for worse, a Wes Anderson movie taken to the stage. There’s an attention to detail here that reminds me of that director’s work, not to mention a lot of music ripped straight from Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom. Its tone is, for lack of a better word, decidedly quirky, reveling in its weirdness with a smile and a wink. But with all that entertaining goofiness, the show doesn’t let us sit with its heart enough to leave a major impact on the audience.
The first week of this semester is about to come to an end, which means that the St Andrews performing arts semester is about to start. With Spark going up in week 3, I wanted to do a quick preview of the season and figure out what people were interested in. One of the theatre writers, Olli Gilford, wrote this piece below.
Sitcoms are excellent. They’re silly, they’re clever, they’re funny and they make us smile a little bit when we feel less than perfect. Importantly, above all else, they are fun. As a lifelong fan of the show Scrubs, I couldn’t help but notice parallels between my favorite sitcom and the style of Charlie Sinclair. It’s irreverent, somewhat faux-intellectual, and has the potential to be as sugary as a powdered donut. And when it was like that, I found myself becoming a part of the laugh track. But Charlie Sinclair was not perfect, and while its highs were high, inconsistencies in the script and direction kept the show from its potential.
Devising is an incredibly interesting concept. A troupe of actors working to create a piece of theatre has the potential to bring something new to the stage. This idea is at the core of Blackbox. Headed up by Oli Savage, Blackbox is St Andrews’ first devising troupe, and though technically formed last year, this semester is the first time the troupe has staged a production. This past Monday was their first showcase of what they could do – the result? It’s a bit tough to describe.
It is incredibly difficult to adapt a play out of its native language and culture. You have to inform the audience about thousands of years of customs and context in at most an hour and a half or, more often than not, much less. While the effort by Alberto Micheletti and his team to stage a performance of Rabindranath Tagore’s play Sacrifice was a bold and admirable choice, the production’s inconsistent tone and inability to convey its message effectively hampered the show from excelling.