I have a lot of love for a nice cheesy romantic comedy every once in a while, and Almost, Maine feels like ten smashed into an hour and a half. It’s a play about formulas: Take a basic meet-cute, add a pun based around a classic saying with some pacey dialogue and Ta-Dah, you’ve got yourself a scene. Having been in a play not unlike this when I was a fresher (Check Please, for anyone wondering), this show made me feel an odd nostalgia for that awkward fresher period. But even beyond that, the cast and crew of this show should be commended for a strong set of fun performances that made me laugh more than a lot of theatre I’ve seen this past year.
The Byre is a demanding space to work in; the rigors of working in a theatre with such little get-in time cannot be understated. But those rigors cannot and should not define the space within it, which is why it troubles me to see, after a string of inventive and clever manipulations, a show misuse the space so dramatically. Glass Menagerie’s issues lie in its production, with a design that does not use the space effectively and staging that keeps the show’s strong points hidden. And while the acting is strong, it simply didn’t have the room to breathe, preventing the show from being anything more than average.
I went to the Edinburgh Fringe last summer for the first time, and while I was there, I wrote a lot of reviews. Because of that, I saw what most would consider an ungodly amount of theatre, most of which wasn’t very good. But when you roll the dice that many times, eventually you’ll end up with double sixes. Box Clever, by Monsay Whitney, is a play that sticks in the back of your throat like a word that you don’t want to say but feel like you have to. It’s rarer still to get to see a play you’ve seen at the fringe you actually liked soon after the fringe ends. But sometimes, you get lucky, and someone who you saw that play with thought so well of it that they wanted to do it themselves. Enter Hannah Ritchie, for whom Box Clever will be her swansong production in St Andrews, the last hurrah for someone whose career has been full of firsts and last hurrahs.
With every year, a new class enters and leaves the St Andrews Theatre community, and as this year ends, the last productions of this year’s graduating class are beginning to come through. In this bittersweet moment, Louis Catliff, one of the most prolific actors, directors, and photographers in town is bringing Nina Raine’s Tribes to the StAge, a touching, funny piece about a dysfunctional family, and their Deaf Son. Owl Eyes sat down with Catliff and the play’s lead, Benjamin Osugo, for a quick chat.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that my favorite writer is Martin McDonagh. There’s something about his scripts, the weirdness, the darkness, and the absolutely bonkers humor, that speaks to me. That being said, I never really liked Cripple of Inishmaan. It’s a good script, but it seemed to lack a lot of the energy that made McDonagh as a writer click – it was slow and standard, rather than his usual eclectic style. That is, until Saturday, when I saw it for myself. The Cripple of Inishmaan made me smile more than any play has in a very long time, and while it may have been lower energy than McDonagh’s other scripts, it was no less of a riotously fun time.
I was talking to a friend of mine last week, who was working as one of the technicians for Sweeney Todd, who told me that the show contained over 300 lighting cues, significant numbers of sound cues, an absurd number of costumes, a strong makeup department, as well as a full orchestra pit. It shouldn’t surprise you, then, when I say that Sweeney Todd cannot be done by a uni troupe perfectly. Resource restrictions dictate that it can’t be. But it is shocking, in the way that many St Andrews productions often are, that this production of Sweeney got as close as it did. Warts and all, Sweeney Todd was an example of what a great show in the Byre can be.
If you’ve ever taken an English class, or been to a vaguely themed party in the past few years, chances are you’ve heard of The Great Gatsby. Even this magazine takes its name from a Great Gatsby character. F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel about wealth and love in the roaring 20s is infamous, and St Andrews is seeing its own adaptation coming to the Stage this week. Owl Eyes sat down with the Director, Madison Hauser, to ask a few questions about how to manage a party quite so big.
According to Oli Savage, it’s a cursed week. His actor was late to rehearsal. The room he walked into was cluttered with scones, tea, and more chairs than you could possibly guess. By his own admissions, his hands are covered in blisters after trying to work on his van over the weekend. But for a man with a curse, Oli Savage is surprisingly chipper. Not surprising, given that he’s got, as far as I’m aware, 2 projects on the go, not to mention being on OTR committee, teching for the Revue, being in a band and running his own theatre company. With that much on, being anything other than chipper is just admitting defeat.
The History Boys is the nation’s favorite play, and I can absolutely understand why. It’s funny, irreverent, ultimately heartwarming, and it provides a positive view of an experience almost every briton has had. I had a teacher like Hector myself, sans-abuse, and I know the positive impact a person like that can have. And this production brought a lot of that emotion that I know too well. But the energy that makes those moments, and this play, special, wasn’t there, and that lethargy, unfortunately, brought the play down from its peak.
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.