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.
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.
Reviewing student stand up can often be a difficult proposition. For the most part it’s rare that you get the opportunity to review a full length routine, as a lot of the stand up that we see it town is a work in process, with people trying out new material in venues like Sandy’s Sundown Stand up.
Week two and as we all begin to settle into the swing of St. Andrews life again it’s time to slow down the pace. With the return of both Doctor Who and Downton Abbey a much needed catch-up session is on everyone’s cards. If you’re after something more fast-paced head to the New Picture House and catch Tom Hardy as the Kray twins in the much anticipated Legend. As student productions are yet to begin, why not head to the Byre Theatre and watch Tribes; a drama based on a deaf central character blocked out of the world around him until he finds the tribe he belongs in through a love interest. Sebastian Faulks is doing what he does best is his new novel Where My Heart Used to Beat. The themes of war, love and illness become intertwined as the main protagonist confronts his life and the Twentieth Century. Also returning this week is the Lumsden Club Secret Garden Party with a new location and ‘day meets night’ theme. If last year’s event was anything to go by the Garden Party is the best way to round off your second week.
This Friday sees the official launch of the On the Rocks art festival in collaboration with Music is Love!
It’s week five and the St Andrews fashion season continues with the hotly anticipated Don’t Walk this weekend. New to TV screens this week is ‘Critical’, a medical drama that refuses to cut the gore and with each week presents a new case with intense realism. A different kind of pain lies at the heart of Cake that explores the effects of emotional trauma through, what is rumoured to be, Jennifer Aniston’s greatest performance to date. The Byre plays host to the first Just So society performance since 2012 this week. ‘The Last Five Years’ is a song-cycle musical oozing with contemporaneity as it follows the making, breaking and remaking of a marriage. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Ishiguro’s ‘The Buried Giant’ fills the gap that lies in historical records after the Roman occupation of Britain. Think ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ meets Kafka and you’ve got this dark age thriller.
Week 8 and Bonfire Night have arrived and here’s a few suggestions to bring some fireworks to your week. If you happen to be missing Halloween, the Broadmoor documentary beginning this week will certainly bring back the chills as ITV is allowed entry into Britain’s high-security hospital. Whether you are believe anything Russell Brand has to say about politics or not, his new book Revolution has certainly set the news alight and begs for your perusal. Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler is just as questioning, the film scrutinises the obsessive nature of journalism and its need for violent crime bulletins. On a brighter note, The Byre and Inklight are back with a bang as The Importance of Being Earnest and this year’s first poetry slam take centre stage this week.
Now in its third year, St Andrews Voices Festival, organised by locally-born Sonia Stevenson and the university’s Music Director Michael Downes, returned to the town in resplendent glory this October. A combination of concerts, workshops and more eclectic entertainments such as the ‘Rufflets Cream Tea With Jazz” were blended together, drawing world-renowned musicians and local performers alike. With many university musicians performing and several university venues being used, the student body was at the very heart of this festival.
I must never blaspheme against Homeland again. There is something perfect about a show that can end so menacingly on the line, ‘you’re in good shape, must be all that yoga’. Homeland is back. In the spirit of credit where credit is due, the music of this episode deserves a mention before anything else frankly; but there was some other stuff too…