Written and directed by student Tessa King – All My Best, which went up on Friday 30th and Saturday 1st of October in the Barron Theatre, was a bold first step by King and her production team. Centring on the domestic family drama that is born out of the death of an identical twin sister, All My Best follows the remaining sister, Macy, as she tries to cope with her grief.
Heavy topics such as those tackled in All My Best often present a challenge to student dramatists; the ability to convey grief in a way that avoids tedium is no mean feat. In order to avoid dragging on, a well paced script is a necessity . Unfortunately this pace was largely missing from All My Best. These pacing issues, combined with a lengthy run time of almost 2 hours, resulted in a play that was rather one note. This might have been prevented had the story been communicated more concisely. Any moments of comedy, typically provided from the interactions between Kit (Daniel Jonusas) and Macy (Annabel Steele), were relished by the audience.
This said, whilst the pacing of the story was too drawn out, the dialogue within the scenes was engaging. King clearly has an ability to replicate very naturalistic dialogue which in a kitchen sink drama is essential. She even had moments of profound speech, although this was sometimes lost within the repetitive nature of some interactions.
Overall the performances, while mixed, certainly showed promise. Steele, playing the character of Macy, was tasked with carrying large parts of the show. Although her physicality was self-conscious, shy of the sexual character Macy becomes, she did successfully convey the weight of Macy’s emotional turmoil. The character of Macy’s husband, Adam (Glenn Kennedy), was a foil for the artistic Kit. Kennedy played a believable corporate husband, carrying himself with an uncomfortable physicality that brought out the tensions in a character who was struggling to relate to his wife. Some of Kennedy’s dialogue was lost due to lack of volume and diction, but when audible he showed a versatility of emotion switching between gentle teasing and outright anger. Jonusas’ Kit however was trapped in the ever repeating scene with Macy where she visits him to be painted and he struggled with how similar she looks to his passed love. Jonusas was the strongest member of the cast, constantly bringing the character with his physicality and being able to find the moments of levity in the heavy script.
Putting on a show in week 3 is hard. ‘All My Best’ lacked polish – simple things that really put a show together like smoother scene transitions, a programme or house music would have been welcome additions. The audience were not aware of the interval and a number left believing it to be the end of the show! However, perhaps given a few more weeks and a more experienced hand on the tiller, these rough edges could have been smoothed out. I hope that with their first show behind them, King and her production team take what they have learned and put it to use in another show, as I would certainly like to see more of King’s dialogue. Similarly the actors should be encouraged to pursue more roles, especially the fresher’s Steele and Jonusas, who would appear to have a bright few years ahead of them.