Student writing is difficult to pull off well. Selling tickets is a hard job even without the play being completely unknown and there can understandably be scepticism around inexperienced playwrights – but ‘New Town’ and the smiles it gave to a full Barron theatre was a wonderful advert for overcoming these difficulties. A warm and funny play that left a smile, it made for a lovely evening out, even if it perhaps didn’t leave a lasting impression.
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.
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.
This semester, directors Montse Picado and Krishna Patel bring Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding to the Barron theatre. I spoke with Krishna to see what she had to say about their upcoming production.
I first encountered Birds in a classics module during my first semester at St. Andrews. After reading it, I remember thinking: what a shame such a delightful play is so utterly and completely unperformable. So, needless to say, I wasn’t going to miss this production. I wanted to see how it would overcome the two main challenges of the play: that half the characters are birds, and half the action takes place in the sky.
When you’re asked to review a production of a play like Arthur Miller’s 1949 play Death of a Salesman, it’s difficult to tell if you should just review the production or attempt to make some comment upon the play itself. The problem is that Death of a Salesman is so embedded in western theatrical tradition, and even in the wider cultural imagination, making any attempt at criticism seem far outside the scope of this review. Suffice it to say that it’s a classic for a reason. To paraphrase W. H. Auden: Some plays are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.
Don’t be misled by this play’s title; it deals with much more than physics or physicists. The show was performed in its original German (a delight as a mother-tongue German speaker) with English subtitles. Dürrenmatt’s dark absurdist comedy tackles the ethics and structures of science, madness and power. In the Director’s Note, the directors acknowledge the challenge in staging this “fiercely moral yet absurdist piece” and bringing it into the 21st century, a challenge they wonderfully mastered.
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.
Student writing and science fiction are two things which are often underrepresented in St Andrews. A student-written science fiction show? Now that’s something we really don’t get a lot of.