The Barron’s got a new seating rack and it’s beautiful.
We’re all back to another semester and another packed Barron season but, as in Shrek 2, ’now…it’s sexy!’.
The first week of this semester is about to come to an end, which means that the St Andrews performing arts semester is about to start. With Spark going up in week 3, I wanted to do a quick preview of the season and figure out what people were interested in. One of the theatre writers, Olli Gilford, wrote this piece below.
In many ways The Two Gentlemen of Verona is a testing ground for what will become Shakespeare’s toolbox: we have girl dressed as boy (a la Twelfth Night), a set of four lovers (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and we even have a Friar Laurence (Romeo and Juliet). As a work which showcases these early ideas, there is much to be interested in on an academic level. Like most people in the audience of Director Olli Gilford’s production, I had never seen or read the play, nor did I know much about it outside of a Wikipedia entry read in a bout of ‘Shakespeare Fear’. While Gilford is aware of the play’s problems, setting them out in his director’s note, the production did not do enough to compensate for the problematic text, in spite of two standout performances.
It’s very rare that I can honestly recommend a show to anyone and everyone, but rare things have a habit of happening on occasion. This is one of those occasions. As far as I know the plan is to take this show to the Edinburgh Fringe festival this August. If you find yourself in Edinburgh for the festival, you should absolutely see this show.
Our Country’s Good Interview
Sitcoms are excellent. They’re silly, they’re clever, they’re funny and they make us smile a little bit when we feel less than perfect. Importantly, above all else, they are fun. As a lifelong fan of the show Scrubs, I couldn’t help but notice parallels between my favorite sitcom and the style of Charlie Sinclair. It’s irreverent, somewhat faux-intellectual, and has the potential to be as sugary as a powdered donut. And when it was like that, I found myself becoming a part of the laugh track. But Charlie Sinclair was not perfect, and while its highs were high, inconsistencies in the script and direction kept the show from its potential.
Theresa Rebeck’s Spike Heels went up in the Barron theatre on the 17th and 18th of March without the audience it deserved. Notable for the way in which it handles the issue of sexual harassment alongside its comic underpinnings, the show was definitely a tough sell. Yet, director Addie Gray deftly navigated these issues of workplace harassment and sexual politics, even if she couldn’t avoid the show’s rather divisive ending.
Commenting on society’s unnatural desire to categorise sexuality instead of accepting its apparent fluidity, while exploring the struggle to know oneself in a world obsessed with labels, the recent Wanton Theatre and Saints LGBT+ production of Cock was a resounding success. Revolving around the conflict that arises when its central character, John (Tom Giles), is torn between his long time boyfriend (Angus Russell) and a new, female, romantic interest (Anoushka Kohli), Cock proved to be a brilliantly fast-paced and witty show driven by complex characters.
Singaporean playwright Alfian Sa’at’s The Optic Trilogy presents three separate acts – ‘Transparency’, ‘Brilliance’, and ‘Iridescence’ – each involving a Man (Clement Yeung) and a Woman (Manaal Mahjoub) and set on July 25th, 2001. We see in turn: a woman hiringa male escort who expects sex and is instead used as a way for her to try and puzzle out her perception of Singapore as her home; a photographer whose blind model turns out to be the woman he had an obsessive crush on as a teenager; and a woman who proposes to her deceased fiancé’s ex-boyfriend in a complicated processing of grief. Two-hander plays are tricky beasts: there’s nowhere to hide when you only have yourself and one other castmate to drive the narrative from beginning to end. Unfortunately, Yeung and Mahjoub did not overcome this challenge.
The play centres around three women in a small Yorkshire community, all coping with scars left by the same man, the almost inhumanly vicious Royce. Dealing with themes of abuse, family, and innocence, it is mostly in monologue, with characters storytelling directly to the audience throughout almost the entire show. The script, written by Richard Cameron, is a gauntlet of intense, emotionally draining vignettes that touch on every element of abuse. This is exemplified in turn by the three characters: Ruby (Eleanor Burke) lives in the shadow of Royce’s emotionalabuse, Jodie (Annabel Steele) is haunted by the memory of his psychological torture, and Lynette (Jen Grace) attempts to cope with his threats of constant physical violence. If one thing about this play is obvious, it is that these three actors deliver tour-de-force performances.