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.
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.
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.
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.
Cocktail dress on, champagne drunk, 3 course Hotel Du Vin meal enjoyed – I cannot deny that my evening was well spent at Till Death Do Them Part: the Fine Food and Dining Society’s immersive murder mystery dinner. The evening’s success rested heavily on the improvisation skills of the 6 main actors – Molly Williams, Caelan Mitchell-Bennett, Minoli de Silva, Bennett Hunecke, Kate Stamoulis and Sasha Gisbourne (aided by photographers, wedding planners and hotel staff who were indispensable to the immersion – in particular Mary Byrne, the ‘host from the hotel’, did such a great job that I thought she worked for Hotel Du Vin until she was presented with flowers at the end of the night!). We were first welcomed into a reception chamber in which the actors slowly began to mingle with the assembled guests. Special mention must be made of Williams and Mitchell-Bennett who adeptly dealt with every single question thrown at them, providing seamless characterisation. The atmosphere was warm and the excitement tangible (I heard many a whisper of “he/she’s gonna die, I bet you”). Sure enough, as the Bride and Groom toasted to the occasion, the latter bent double in a realistic choking fit and we were all shepherded desperately out of the reception room and through to the dining room, accompanied by promises of “yes, I’ll call the police in a minute”.
Rabbit Hole, Mermaids’ first StAge show of the semester, was a testament to the virtue of simplicity. Director Emma Gylling Mortensen has produced a play that is very clearly a passion project, and her affection for the text was made obvious by creative decisions – from the staging, to a lavishly detailed set, not to mention an inspired playlist – that demonstrated a commitment to utter precision.
Mermaids’ production of Antigone, directed by Greta Kelly and Lorna Govan, is a well thought-through reading of the famous Greek tragedy. The direction was faithful to the text and successfully conveyed Sophocles’ adaptation of the ancient myth, thanks to striking performances from the entire cast. This same faithfulness to the text, however, fails to make the themes of the tragedy relevant to a contemporary audience, which ultimately undermines the power of the production.