Tap Tap Theatre presents 'Men'

Fri 30th November – Sat 1st December 2012

reviews

Olivia Lace-Evans

at 00:04 on 2nd Dec 2012

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Tap Tap’s opening production of ‘Men’ was the perfect way to introduce us to the new theatre company. The show was witty, intelligent and chillingly dark at points, and showcased a remarkable amount of talent from the cast and production team. From the outset the energy and vibrancy captured the audience’s attention and by the close of the play I was disappointed it had to come to an end.

The Little Black Box venue could have presented a real challenge due to its limited dimensions and simplistic interior. And yet the space was used fantastically well. Theo Scholefield’s direction was nuanced and beautifully thought out, illustrating a clear understanding of the text and excellent dramatic timing and tone. Every cue and lighting change was also executed with precision and made sure the pace of the play was effectively maintained.

A huge amount of credit should be given to the remarkably strong cast, each bringing a unique and vibrant aspect to each of the differing characters. Tom Rawlinson should be applauded for his brilliant portrayal of the manipulative and sly Syrus. Every chilling smile and subtle change of expression brilliantly teased out his character. When placed in contrast with the sincere and vulnerable portrayal of Frank (Harrison Clark) the dynamic between the two was stunning, particularly in the crackling penultimate scene. The two female actresses, Letty Thomas and Claudia Jolly also gave us superb performances. Letty’s comedic role was charming and was executed with excellent comic timing. Claudia’s more stern and authoritative role as Frank’s older sister served as a brilliant comparison to Letty’s more scatty character, illustrating a great sincerity in her performance.

However, though the acting and direction was very good, in the end a significant proportion of our praise should be directed towards Miriam Battye and her writing. Battye provided us with the perfect balance between comedy and darker implications hiding beneath the surface of the text. Every scene gave us a different aspect of the characters to delve into and the writing was intelligent and witty.

Overall Tap Tap’s opening production was a great success showcasing a brilliant new writer and an incredibly strong cast. I am very much looking forward to what they will gift us with next.

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Gisele Payvandi

at 01:34 on 2nd Dec 2012

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The prospect of seeing Miriam Battye’s new play excited a lonely and single girl such as myself in the hope I would see a few topless men. As luck would have it a topless male was featured, however I was unprepared for the emotional roller-coaster that ‘Men’ took me on.

The proximity of the audience to the actors due to the small size of The Little Black Box created the sense that the audience were eavesdropping or peeping into a window of the characters’ lives. This must be credited to Miriam Battye’s exquisite writing which cleverly depicted the intimate and tenuous relationships of the characters. The dialogue was realistic and natural and Battye created a beautiful combination of comedy and exposure of the characters’ darkest secrets. This sense of eavesdropping was emphasized through the ambiguity of the dialogue as no plot point was explicitly handed to the audience, hence pushing the plot forward. Theo Scholefield’s wonderful direction did Battye’s script much justice as each interaction offered such realism through the awkward intimacy. This was complimented perfectly through the use of real toast advertised in Guy Saunder’s intriguing poster. The smell of real toast and beauty of other intricate details sucked the audience in and the visuals made it almost impossible not to have a strong emotional reaction to the performance on stage.

The play was driven not only by the fantastic script and direction but also by the strength of the cast. Claudia Jolly’s performance as Bianca invited the audience in from the start as she displayed not only comic talent but also warmth through her desperation and care for her brother, Frank (Harrison Clark). Her talent was reaffirmed in her passionate confrontation to Syrus (Tom Rawlinson) reminding the audience of a mother lion that no one would want to mess with. However, the female talent didn’t stop there. Letty Thomas’ portrayal of Suze had the audience in stitches through the quick delivery of her witty lines and was also the most relatable performance of the cast as she subtly voiced the frustration of the audience towards Syrus’ treatment of Frank. This treatment created an interesting and moving power dynamic between Syrus and Frank. Tom Rawlinson perfectly created the role of a patronizing and seedy bully through his fantastic facial expressions which both repulsed and delighted the audience. However, Harrison Clark’s portrayal of Frank was the standout performance of the night as he symbolized every young dreamer who is suppressed and trapped. Clark must be commended as his youthful optimism and desperation to break out of his destructive relationship with Syrus broke the heart of everyone in the audience. He also, of course, provided the topless moment that I had been waiting for.

To be honest, anything with a topless male would have made my night but for Tap Tap theatre’s debut play, ‘Men’ was a triumph and tremendously exceeded the previous standard of student theatre by accurately voicing the dreams and frustration of the young and youthful.

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