The first week of this semester is about to come to an end, which means that the St Andrews performing arts semester is about to start. With Spark going up in week 3, I wanted to do a quick preview of the season and figure out what people were interested in. One of the theatre writers, Olli Gilford, wrote this piece below.
“Looking at the season as a whole, this seems to be the season where Mermaids goes meta, starting with Play On! which is going up in week 6. It’s a comedy by Rick Abbot and directed by Kerry Gnandt (Rent-Ensemble, Bonnie and Clyde-Blanche) about a group of amateur actors rehearsing and performing a show while the author rewrites it around them. Everything that can go wrong apparently does and it should be a nice breath of comedic fresh air in the middle of quite a bleak semester of murder, totalitarian nightmares, and Greek tragedy. Speaking of which we should probably cover And Then There Were None, The Pillowman, and The Bacchae. And Then There Were None directed by Rowan Wishart (Blackbox, Lemons5– Director) is probably the most exciting show of this semester. It’s going up in the Byre in week 7 as the centrepiece of the Mermaids 100th anniversary celebration. It’s based on the classic crime novel by Agatha Christie and it has a large and enthusiastic team behind it and I’m sure they can deliver. The Pillowman, on the other hand, doesn’t promise all of its characters will die but it’s making no promises. It’s going up in week 5 and directed by our own Miles Hurley (Atlas-Actor, Jerusalem-Actor). It’s a dark, twisted tale about a writer whose violent fairy tales seem to be coming to life in a brutal dystopian society. It looks to be a bleak, but funny, watch. And finally, The Bacchae going up in week 10 directed by Gabriele Uboldi (Blackbox, Romeo and Juliet – Actor). It’s Euripides tragedy about the god Dionysus tormenting the king of Thebes for refusing to recognise him as a god. Kind of. The actors break character and argue about the “right” way to do Greek tragedy during the play, there are dance numbers and a lot of physical theatre. It’s all singing, all dancing brutal dismemberment basically. “
As for me, the shows I’m the most excited about are Anything Goes and The Deep Blue Sea. Both are debuts for their respective directors, and although they are entirely disconnected, save perhaps a few nautical references, each promises to be an interesting show to watch. The Deep Blue Sea, Directed by Benjamin Osugo (Atlas at the Fringe- Actor, Two Gentlemen of Verona- Actor), promises a realistic, grounded look at life in the post-war world through the eyes of Hester Collyer, a woman struggling with her mental health. While it fits with the darkness of much of the rest of the semester, it promises a realistic, honest approach to the issues it intends to tackle. But for the more faint of heart, Anything Goes, directed by Marcella Denby (Rent- Actor, Bonnie and Clyde- Actor) promises a rest from the dismal darkness. Written around the songs of Cole Porter, the musical is a fun romp full of as many dance numbers as it has classic hits. The shows go up in week 8 in the Barron and the Stage respectively, and both promise to be a good cap off to an exceptional season.