Last week saw the end of lectures and seminars and also the end of the French Society’s calendar of events. An active and well-attended society, the conclusion to the year was offered by a wonderful evening of theatre and, naturally, wine and cheese in Parliament Hall. A crowd-pleasing combination, the soirée proved to be a roaring success, with impressive acting, some classy live music and more than enough fromage to go around.
I was a latecomer to Fleabag. Put off by the hype and the unappealing name, I arrived about a year late to the party, where everyone was already putting on their coats to leave, eye-rolling at my snail-paced approach to one of the most popular comedies to have graced our screens in recent times. A similar thing happened with my intense love affair with Monzo (we are still happily together but I’m getting a bit sick of the notifications).
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.