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Ben Isle: A critical perspective on theatre
|Columnists||Fri, 27 Apr 2012||Tweet|
The Stand tried to send Ben to review a play going up in The Barron. Unfortunately, he had an important meeting with “some people I know from television,” and he insisted we send him a DVD recording of the show instead. Having no recording, we gave him an episode of Made in Chelsea to review. We think he may have misunderstood.
A wise man once said that ‘Money makes the world go round.’ Obviously this was not meant literally. Literally, gravity makes the world go round and also stops it from floating off into the sky. Money is certainly a theme that the Mermaids Theatre Fund chose to explore with their generous funding of the production of their latest untitled show. The production was made in Chelsea and shipped up to the Barron Theatre on North Street on the 14th April 2012. Unfortunately, I was incredibly busy that evening so couldn’t attend in person. (Let’s just say if the people I was meeting had met me you might be seeing my work produced by the BBC very soon.) However, I have seen many pieces of theatre before, over 50% of which performed in St Andrews. This puts me in the perfect position to say that it was the best theatre I’ve ever seen. In fact much like a carpenter reviewing chairs, I can bring specialist knowledge and craftsmanship to the role. However, none of the actors were wooden and they also weren’t chairs.
The play was a theatrical interpretation of conversations between a number of characters and in this sense it was similar to Othello, which I studied during my A levels where I received 98 UMS points. The set was astonishing. The use of magic to create sports cars, bars and office spaces in the Barron was phenomenal. In some instances it was like the characters were truly in sports cars, bars or each other. This reminded me of a recent Royal Shakespeare Company production where there was a change in scenery. I have to applaud the originality of the director in choosing to copy an idea from the most recent RSC production.
The actor who played the confused old woman, Millie, lacked characterization and effective costuming but managed to cope with the delivery of her non-sequiturs. By the end of the play it was clear from her increasing lack of tonal variation that she was exhausted by constantly being asked questions and having to respond with information that neither answered that question, nor any other question.
I did not know what to say about the actor who played Ollie, because he is not my friend. However, on the off chance that I do see him around town I would like to say that his performance was sublime.
The standout performance, however, was by the actor who played Caggie. Claggy’s timing was perfect. The facial expressions that Cagoule provided the audience with were brilliantly consistent. The stage presence of Caligula meant that a successful career in St Andrews Theatre definitely awaits her.
There were often silences where, in any other production, a reviewer might presume the actors had forgotten their lines. However, in this show the silences were clearly profound. It was almost certainly a metaphor for nihilism or more ecologically friendly cars with quieter engines. My only worry was the lack discernible narrative, convincing acting. This aspect would have been disappointing had the director and the entire cast not been my very good friends. Peace and Love, Ben.