The Thursday night of the On The Rocks Festival saw Blind Mirth’s 21st Anniversary performance. Improv is a new territory for me, so I was hesitant about what was in store. Truth be told, a couple of things worried me. First, I was worried about the idea of audience participation, something I loathe both in theory and practice. Second, I was worried I wouldn’t find it funny, based on some of last year’s reviews, and the fairly empty theatre.
With the performance of Twelfth Night which took place in the StAge on the 10thof April as part of the On The Rocks Festival, Shakespeare’s beloved comedy has now been performed every year in St Andrews for the last four years. This, however, was definitely the most unique and, in more ways than one, the most impressive production.
I was undeniably nervous about seeing A Crown of Laurels, the second original musical from the creative partnership of Lavie Rabinovitz and Ryan Hay. The show had been careful to emphasize in its publicity that plot themes revolved around sexual assault, and the atmosphere pervading the audience as we assumed our seats was a kind of subdued intrigue – as it should be. I was happy to realize that the show was to be performed in the round; a tough ask for a two-hander, but one that the musical’s leads tackled with energetic aplomb.
When you take on a play as famous and beloved as Oscar Wilde’s wonderful comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, you are setting yourself up for a challenge. While the writing can almost carry a production by itself, the actors are competing against Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Judi Dench and Reese Witherspoon in many imaginations, and perhaps David Suchet-in-drag in others. Add to this the fact that the StAge is just not a good space for theatre (at least not when used conventionally), and this production team were giving themselves a very difficult task. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one they could meet.
Student writing is difficult to pull off well. Selling tickets is a hard job even without the play being completely unknown and there can understandably be scepticism around inexperienced playwrights – but ‘New Town’ and the smiles it gave to a full Barron theatre was a wonderful advert for overcoming these difficulties. A warm and funny play that left a smile, it made for a lovely evening out, even if it perhaps didn’t leave a lasting impression.
This year’s On The Rocks Festival line-up is bigger and better than ever and we are so excited to bring you coverage of the some of the best art and culture in St Andrews. Running from 5th to 14th of April, the biggest student-run festival in the UK will be showcasing the best of the town’s talent and we hope to see many of our readers there. We know that we will be trying to cram in as much of the programme as possible.