Wed 23rd – Thu 24th October 2013


Olivia Lace-Evans

at 12:18 on 24th Oct 2013



The concept is simple: 80 years, 8 extracts, 50 actors, 1 Play. Dramsoc’s 'Trash' takes you on a rollercoaster through the decades, exploring everything from a dysfunctional family Christmas to Freud hiding a half naked woman in his closet; you’ll be pleased to hear the latter extract proves to be as hilarious as it sounds. Although it wasn’t the most polished show it was a good opportunity to bring some new actors to the fore, and certainly proved to be an entertaining evening.

There were a number of extracts which really stood out and highlighted a promising pool of dramatic talent for the upcoming year. The opening extract, ‘The Palm Beach Story’ was a good choice for opening the show. With slick direction, original choreography and huge energy from the whole ensemble, it was a pleasure to watch. A huge amount of credit should go to Ronan Shields’ and his live band as their timing was impeccable and certainly heightened the comedy of the piece.

‘Hysteria’ was the strongest extract of the evening by far. It was executed with superb comic timing and tremendous energy; by the end of the extract, the whole audience was left in stitches. Misha Patel’s Freud was witty and he used physical comedy particularly well and Chris Lowe as Dali was a breath of fresh air. His caricature of the eccentric artist was vibrant and his exaggerated Spanish stereotype was hysterical - I was glad to see he resisted the temptation to become too pantomime-esque.

The final extract, ‘Circle Mirror Transformation’ was a witty parody of a therapeutic workshop, mocking the stereotypical acting exercises used by so many drama students. Alex Kirk and Joe O’Toole had a charming chemistry and I particularly enjoyed the subtle comedy of Hazel Monaghan’s airy and hippy like group leader.

Unfortunately, the showcase format can prove to be a cruel mistress. With each extract allocated only 10 minutes and variable acting abilities across the board, some pieces became somewhat difficult to connect with. For those less experienced actors it would take longer to grow into their roles and at the moment you started to believe their characterization, the lights would go down and the audience swiftly taken onto the next piece. Obviously this is difficult to avoid, and with a smaller, more rehearsed cast - they only had three weeks of rehearsals - this might not have proved such a problem.

Saying this, there were a number of notable performances from a handful of actors. Jack Chesher gave us the performance of the night. His hilarious and buffoonish portrayal of Brian Runnicles in ‘No Sex Please, We’re British’ had the audience in hysterics and demonstrated real comedic flair. Oli Robinson should be applauded for his engaging and skillful role as narrator in ‘Under Milk Wood’. I also particularly enjoyed Eliot Salt’s performance in ‘The Face’, though I felt the overall execution of the piece was confused. Unfortunately the slightly chaotic and ambiguous end to the extract diminished her performance.

Although I enjoyed the comedic spectacle and energy of the actors, as a dramatic showcase there was room for improvement. It’s a shame that the more humorous pieces weren’t balanced with some more serious extracts and the acting standards were noticeably variable. However, if you’re looking for an entertaining evening then Trash is the perfect introductory show for you, and I look forward to seeing some more finessed productions from Dramsoc later in the year.


Sam Hughes

at 16:45 on 28th Oct 2013



This year’s Dramsoc season opener aimed to display the theatrical talent on hand across the University with 8 extracts from plays, each from a different decade. Unfortunately the nature of the showcase beast can often leave little time to allow actors, musicians and indeed backstage crew to truly shine. However, despite this there were some notable performances.

The first excerpt (The Palm Beach Story) was well directed, well-acted and well-staged; I especially enjoyed the clever use of the revolving door frames to best use the limited space provided. The stand out performance for me though has to go to the band, whose timing was near perfect adding much to the humour. My only real criticism was that I did not feel bad for Tom (Fred Ward) when his wife (Robyn Wilson) left him. This did not feel like a marriage breaking down and while I can sympathise with the lack of rehearsal time I still believe that there wasn’t enough chemistry between the two leads.

“Under Milk Wood” began the second ten minute slot with promise. Oli Robinson demonstrated flair and presence in what was essentially a narrating role - not easily done. I wanted more from his stage partner Finbar Fitzgerald, though. Finbar’s quirky style showed promise but would have been more effective had he just gone for it a bit more. Own the stage! Sadly, in spite of the heroic multi-tasking efforts of Freddie Morton-Hooper, I simply could not follow the storyline. I must mention however that the use of lighting throughout perfectly complimented the piece.

From the 1960s came “The Real Inspector Hound” which put me in the odd situation of acting as a critic, critiquing actors acting as critics for a play. Besides the sense of inception, I thoroughly enjoyed the interplay between Birdboot and Moon, played by Benjamin Kriss and James Alexander respectively. Mrs Drudge was also well portrayed by Rosie Thompson, accurately depicting the archetypal disapproving housekeeper.

“No Sex Please, We’re British” was my favourite short of the night. Every character was well polished considering the brevity of the rehearsal period and I sensed both actor and audience benefitted from the presence of a clear beginning, middle and end to the plot. It would be foolish not to single out Jack Chesher for his outstanding interpretation of the perfectly nice but ultimately bumbling Brian Runnicles. Brian’s lack of social awareness led to much hilarity and his loyalty to the Hunter family made him a very endearing character.

After the mince pie filled interval came “Season’s Greetings”. Unfortunately for me this play did not strike a chord with me. However, the performance from Polly Edsell as Belinda, the flirtatious and sassy cheating housewife, was undoubtedly brilliant; she carried the show in my opinion.

Then came the 90’s with “Hysteria” starring none other than Freud (Misha Patel) and Dali (Chris Lowe). Misha played a classy Freud and managed to bring out the best in the witty script with seemingly off the cuff remarks. At odds with the frenetic Dali and desperately trying to hide Jessica (Amy Cotter), this was to be another highlight of the show with its frantic style of comedy.

The noughties came with much promise as “That Face” began with Imogen Comrie and Eliot Salt, playing Mia and Izzy respectively, exchanging amusing dialogue during an initiation ceremony. After this scene I found myself struggling with the concept of the play but I put this down to it being an excerpt rather than a full script. A somewhat abrupt ending also left me wondering what had just happened.

Finally came “Circle Mirror Transformation” a play which I can only admire for its ambition. While artistically very interesting and confident in its execution, I cannot say I fully got my head around what was going on. I can also say on a personal note that where a 10 minute snippet of this style was enlightening and refreshing, I could not see myself enjoying a full length version.

Overall, I felt that most of these performances were hampered by the showcase format. My opinion remains that despite the constraints of a 10 minute slot the emphasis should be put on maintaining the natural flow of a full show. A distinct beginning, middle and end allows actors to see where their performance is headed, leading to more well-rounded performances. I do not wish to take anything away from the actors personally for I do believe that this was, in general, a well performed set of extracts. Reducing the number of performers per show, however, can also lead to fewer strings needing to be tied up. A good performance all round but I feel the format needs to be adapted for the future.


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