So, an Ouroboros is an ancient symbol representing cyclical time and rebirth. Thanks, Google. Student Katie Brennan’s play is an imaginative exploration of love and the many forms it can take, set against vibrant backdrops from the present to recent history, and back again.
Madeleine Inskeep and Tommy Rowe played lovers in present day New York, World War II Paris, and what appeared to be Victorian or earlier England. They both dealt with the changing settings and tone of the play reasonably well. In terms of accents however, they struggled. Particularly in scenes set in Paris, it was hard to discern if the characters were from France or Germany from their speech, which confused their relationship with each other. Inskeep and Rowe worked well together; they convincingly portrayed relationships being moulded by vastly different situations. Brennan’s script also provided for many comic opportunities and the actors delivered. This provided the story with much warmth that balanced it well.
Such a creative premise is welcome in original student theatre, yet sometimes the script fell short of its premise. As a whole, the play needed editing. Some scenes felt long and dragged out, with characters often repeating themselves past the point of dramatic emphasis. Sometimes conversations would seem to go nowhere, and it was difficult to tell if the problem lay in actors’ adlibbing or the script. There were good moments, but especially in the first act, as the narrative goes back in time, it felt as if the audience was watching the beginning of three separate plays with little progression.
The production suffered from an overreliance on voiceovers. Presenting letters, phone calls, and video recordings, the multimedia helped to add texture to and communicate the dialogue of love between the characters in the play’s trans-historical settings. Yet here there was too much of a good thing. Despite filling every scene change and providing time for the actors’ costume changes they felt long and stretched. The audience was left to stare at an empty stage for minute after minute, with a heightened awareness of the cast crossing the set in preparation for actual action to take place.
The set design was strong. Blending the present with the past, modern costumes felt just as at home there as Victorian dress. A guitar and piano were also featured and with them the play was at its most compelling. Music brought all the narratives together, and the live and original pieces let the production really shine at some points. Undoubtedly, with more clarity in its direction, Ouroboros could have been better. Despite this, the play was at times moving, and almost always entertaining.