In a cosy university town, imagining a world where domestic and sexual slavery takes the place of education and where children are forced into adulthood, is not easy to comprehend. It is something that spreads beyond this town. Only 8% of the UK population are aware of the ongoing issue of slavery in the world today.
The narrator, “Man in Chair,” perhaps best articulated the point of Musical Theatre: at the end of the day, the goal of (most) musicals is to make you happy. And Monday’s performance of The Drowsy Chaperone did just that. In spite of a few technical glitches, The Drowsy Chaperone, was charming, hilarious, and an absolutely wonderful reminder of just how fun musicals can be.
The Blender was a step away from any other Refreshers or RAG Week event. The elegance of the newly-reonvated Byre theatre set the ambience for an event of truly polished young musical talent, put together by Jazz Scotland and Fife Jazz week. Artists from all over Scotland – including St Andrews – gathered for a musical collaboration like no other. It was wonderful to have such incredible music brought here, rather than traveling to a city centre.
A play on a play in a play
This week, the University of St Andrews Gilbert & Sullivan Society tackled “Iolanthe” – a story of fairies and politicians dripping with classic British satire. Having never seen or even heard any music of G&S, I was both intrigued and bewildered at the initial story line. From the initial shaky but steady start from the orchestra, the music gave away the light hearted, quirkiness that would characterise the rest of the play.
Acted in an appropriately claustrophobic Barron theatre, Bryony Lavery's More Light promised to be a challenging play. Its script is didactic and declamatory. Additionally, the narrative is highly unconventional and unsettling, based around a group of imprisoned concubines resorting to cannibalism to survive. These two facts alone make great demands on the performers and the audience. So I thoroughly commend both the audacious vision of director Michael Laird and the obvious skill of those with whom he was working, actors, set and costume designers and animators alike. Yes, you read that right, animators. One of the most striking and well executed pieces in the play was the elegant opening animation provided by Ekaterina Andreev. Though marred by the sub-Enya soundtrack, it set the scene with a series of suitably Sinic line drawings. Most interestingly, this segment was a great example of how other media might be incorporated into the theatre.
Just So’s presentation of [title of show] is not a particularly life-changing experience, nor is it solemnly thought-provoking. However, the beauty of the musical is that it in no way tries to be; it is rather a self-aware, cheery show guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a stitch in your side from laughing.
It’s fair to say that not many people go into a play featuring dancing velociraptors with any set expectations. Thus, I found myself walking into Venue 1 having no idea what to expect of Enron, and was only marginally surprised to find myself confronted with three blind mice stumbling their way across the middle of the floor. It soon became apparent that these blind mice were representative of the employees of Enron, one of America’s most successful companies until its swift and shocking collapse in 2001. The audience were invited to ‘not feel fixed to one point’ and to ‘wander around’ as the play began, which seemed to hint we’d be far more involved in this production than any timid audience member is willing to be. The blurring of the audience and performance spaces, however, only added to the play’s unsettling impact; this worked particularly well during the play’s climax, when cast members blended seamlessly with the audience to describe to scars left by Enron’s downfall.
Having been unceremoniously ditched at the door in favour of Dr. Noodle, I entered the Barron theatre on Friday night anticipating my viewing of ‘Wasted Love’ to be imbued with mild annoyance. Sitting solo at the back, I felt the first pang of despair as the two actors mumbled onto stage and, I confess, the word ‘amateur’ began to take shape in my mind. But before this thought could even be scribbled onto the program for future reference, it evaporated as the singing began.