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.
We were welcomed into the Barron by Wilf Wheatley, collecting our tickets in character. Wheatley’s Cornish-accented stationmaster was the first sign that Mermaids’ latest production, Arnold Ridley’s The Ghost Train, was going to be a raucous affair: teetering between camp comedy and jump-scare titillation.
With St Andrews arguably the most diverse it’s ever been in terms of theatre, it’s rare to see something new. That said, Getting Even is the first play that I can think of that actively incorporates audience interactivity to go up here. As a mesh of an entertaining, hour long experience with simple decision-making, it does just enough to keep you on the hook for the full hour.
It is surprisingly rare that Mermaids stages a true comedy in St Andrews, and this production of Patrick Barlow’s play is certainly that. The play has a strange history, as a farce based on an Alfred Hitchcock movie, itself based on an early thriller novel. Even from the promotional images, it was clear this production would be self-aware, revelling in its meta elements and the broad pastiche of a genre well known for being chock full of clichés.
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.
From thousands of twinkling lights, to multiple chocolate fountains and spirited Christmas music, guests truly fell down the rabbit hole at this year’s Mermaid’s Christmas Ball. Christmas Ball is always one of the most anticipated nights of the year, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Everyone was having a fabulous time, whether it was their first time or their fourth.
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
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.
Closer by Patrick Marber is a play about the emotional distance that can occur in relationships and the restless neediness of love, following the interweaving and interrelating lives of four characters.
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.