TRASh

Thu 27th – Sat 29th October 2011

reviews

Theo Gentilli

at 00:32 on 28th Oct 2011

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It was with a certain amount of cynicism that I sat down to watch TRASh. In truth, I haven't seen a student play since secondary school. I was, however, wonderfully surprised.

The show consists of 8 short plays ranging from the engaging 'the Pillowman', a tense, psychological exploration of the judicial system and Freudian psychology, to the hilarious 'Cloud Nine' a parody of quintessential British values. The comedy plays were of special note, where a fusion of slapstick and sillyness were characteristically undercut by serious issues such as that of couple jealousy in ‘Doubles’, servitude in 'Endgame', and parental role reversal in 'The Monster in Hall'.

The actors had a tricky job. In a 15-minute skit, the depth of character development was impressive. Despite occasional instances of over-acting, most notably in the first play, the characters were handled with a skill beyond that expected in a student play. Notable performances were The Master in ‘Endgame’, who aptly balanced madness and coherence. Another worthy of note was Clive in 'Cloud Nine', acutely attuned to the British psyche. He was sufficiently detached, however, to profoundly ridicule the buffoonery of the British upper class.

Aside from the performances, the production was slick, especially in 'Hamlet by Dogg', where the team accurately projected the hilarious translations of their make believe script in perfect synchronization. Such a play required much from the cast, who delivered their lines with perfect timing. They proved the seminal quote that 90% of communication is non-verbal, transmitting their lines with perfect intonation and comic timing; this led to a script that punned hilariously on social and linguistic convention. The stage changeovers were slick and fast. The score, when constant between plays gave the impression of thematic development.

Overall, an outstanding repertoire of plays, where comedy raised the tempo, and the cast had the courage to explore complex issues, which gave the show its necessary depth.

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Anwen Jones

at 07:16 on 28th Oct 2011

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For Dramsoc's first staging this year, TRASh proved to be a perfect outlet for the society's many upcoming actors and veterans alike. A number of 8 ten minute extracts spanning 8 different decades meant the audience were provided with alternative styles of drama whilst never leaving their seats. The substantial round of applause at the closing of the play, as the numerous actors took their curtain call, was proof enough to show the large scale of enjoyment experienced by all who were lucky enough to get a ticket.

Starting with the Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertoldt Brecht - a 1940's play - one was immediately faced with the new talent of first year students. Admittedly, compared to the subsequent extracts, 'Arturo Ui' was noticeably less powerful in terms of grasping the audience although this may have been due to the difficulty of expressing its serious subject matter. Nevertheless, the cast did provide an interesting take on the play with the compere and the main gangsta right-hand man standing out particularly in terms of talent and delivery. It also demonstrated the upcoming talent of such dedicated individuals who did well considering their lack of experience in Dramsoc. I have no doubt that many of them will blossom into excellent actors.

The 1950's extract that followed the opening of the night, was perhaps, for me, the one that stood out the most. A tragic mix of uncertain loyalties and hilarious phrases meant the four person cast had a gem of a play to interpret and perform. Praise goes to the Proposer of the extract for spotting the extreme potential in the speeches and monologues. Having said this, it is extremely difficult for me to pick out an individual as all four demonstrated a high degree of ensemble work - the two old, almost 'zombie' characters bounced well off each other, providing multiple giggles and laugh out loud moments for the audience. The blind 'master' and his servant managed to perfectly portray the difficulty of a love/hate relationship and to convey the certain hopelessness of their situation whilst remaining comic and hilarious. The servant's monologue at the end in particular, brought home the tragedy that underlined the whole extract and was delivered in such a way that many audience members had tears in their eyes. Bravo Katie Sherrard.

Moving on to the 60's we were transported to the world of James and the Giant Peach. Being a well known story with an excellent film adaptation, one feared for the cast in providing an original interpretation of the script. I needn't have been worried as this extract appeared to the most popular with audience members. Filled with comic timing and well placed humour, one was immediately transported into the world of James. The entrance involved each cast member silohetted at the backdrop, dancing to an upbeat score, and this in itself received outburts of laughter from the audience. Praise goes to Mr. Centipede for maintaining his american accent whilst being incredibly hilarious and watchable, Mr Glow Worm for his pure show of inhibitions in relation to his acting and Letty Thomas (the ladybird) who held her own amongst such a strong cast despite being a first year.

Dogg's Hamlet was the final piece of Act 1 which revolved around the inability of the cast to understand human words. Instead the audience are faced with humourous 'dog' vocabularly which was cleverly translated for us on a screen at the front of the stage. A clever idea, the extract was again a comic favourite and praise goes to all four members of the cast for learning and acting in a 'foreign' language. Although sometimes lacking in a little energy, it is fair to say it was a success with the ensemble work particularly standing out.

Cloud Nine - representing the 80's decade - saw the introduction of a incredibly posh yet odd family. The decision to play the key female role by a man went down exceedingly well with the audience and indeed, this actor did incredibly in portraying an obvious, stereotypical house wife which, understandingly, made him stand out. Clive, the main part, was also hilariously posh and carried the scenes he was in with vigour and perfect comic timing. Indeed, the whole cast were excellent in an understated way: the mother-in-law's small yet incredible facial expressions being just one example. I have to say this extract was my second favourite of the night.

For the 1990's category, the audience were immediately engrossed by the clever take on Calvin Harris' song 'It was acceptable in the 80's' where the decade was changed by an overhead speaker to the 90's. 'Doubles' provided the audience with an omniscient insight into the 'normal' nights of two different couples in adjacent Japanese hotel rooms. Both male leads did well in expressing the outward, sillyness of the male ego and indeed were welcomed with laughter from the audience. In my opinion however, the praise should go to the two females whose job was more difficult as they played understated, accurate roles of disinterested wives. The actress who played Lyn especially caught my eye as she owned all the comic lines she spoke without the bravado of normal funny roles.

Next we came to the Pillowman by Martin McDonagh which was perhaps the only truly serious and yet gripping extract of the night. A chilling story of the gruesome content of a writer's stories, the audience were plunged into the dank, dark torture room to watch and listen to the terrors being discussed. The audience were, for the first time of the night, completely silent during this extract - not, I argue, because of a sense of disinterest, but because of the shocking nature and wonderful acting presented towards to them. It was perhaps the only extract which left a seed of thought in one's mind even after the ten minutes were over. Praise goes to all three members for pulling off a risky, chilling set and script, but singled out for particular achievement should be the actor who played Ariel; his broken, distraught and fitful portrayal of a complicated man was extremely touching and terrifying at the same time.

Finally, the play ended with The Monster in the Hall - the extract representing the 2010's category. Praise goes to the director of the extract first for the set up of the characters (they faced the audience whilst talking to one another) as it was an original interpretation that paid off. Also the physical theatre in this piece was hilarious and highly successful. The constant desire of Duck to hide her guests in the cupboard, the hilarious deliveries made by all four cast members and the relationships between the ensemble in general made this extract a perfect ending to a great night out. Duck in particular, played her role with superb comic timing but in an understated way - a difficult thing to achieve so bravo.

Overall TRASh was a huge success, showcasing the pure genius and talent of both directors and actors alike; I think Dramsoc are in for a very successful and entertaining year.

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