“We are what we always were in Salem…”
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.
Attending a pantomime as a student in St Andrews is a strange experience. Doing so by oneself is even stranger. Pantomimes are very much a family affair, so being the lone twenty-two-year-old in a sea of mummies, daddies, kiddies and grandparents made me feel slightly like I’d infiltrated enemy lines and was waiting to be discovered as an imposter. Despite this, the excitement in the theatre was palpable, children and adults alike enjoying the festive playlist and getting in the mood for this classic British tradition.
Just So Society’s production of the classic musical Sweet Charity was performed with verve, vivacity and confidence. Director Hanna Lawson has brought to life a complex set of moving parts in a bold, brash, joyous show that didn’t take itself too seriously and set a smile on every spectator’s face.
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.
Unicef on Campus St Andrews’ 4th Annual Symposium was held in the Byre Theatre Studio this year, and for the first time, Unicef’s Symposium collaborated with On the Rocks, expanding their audience. The Symposium focused on the issue of Children in Conflict and brought in a panel of speakers with a diverse level of expertise on the topic. The speakers included Marc Ellison, a photojournalist working in conflict zones; Laurie Druelle, a representative of HALO Trust, which focuses on Mine Clearance and Awareness in post-confict zones; Jaremey McMullin, a St Andrews IR lecturer researching internal conflict and the process of post-conflict transition; and Daniel Cosgrove, a representative from UNICEF UK based in Glasgow.
With the mid-week blues and housing stress getting me down, I decided to go out on Wednesday; but I wanted to try something new rather than just your standard night at the Union, so I decided to switch things up and went to the Open Mic hosted by Music is Love at their brand spanking new location, The Byre Theatre.
St Andrews’ very own playwright is at it again. Tim Foley’s newest play (and his last in our grey old town), Baby Bottle Cosmo is a twist on the classic living room drama – two couples, lots of booze, drama ensues. Starring Frazer Hadfield, Mimi Von Schack, Mandarr Brandi, Jen Russell and Ed Fry, it sets the living room drama on its head by having the two couples be two gay couples. The themes dealt with are universal to all parents, such as the idea of parents striving to make their children better people; however one character laments, gay parents are held to a much higher standard than straight parents because their situation is not the status quo. So they need to be better than everyone else. Straight to the heart with that one.
So Tim, first of all, what is the basic premise of the play?