Creating and crafting theatre from scratch is a brave endeavour. Part of you is being measured, assessed and critiqued and it takes guts to put your ideas and interests out there for the public to judge. And so, I applaud this young writer and director, Conçalo Gois.
Napier University Drama Society is clearly a very active group with 27 members of cast in this production about the nature of memory and significant moments in time remembered differently by different people. It didn’t quite hit the mark but was admirable in concept.
Some things that needed attention include sound effects – ease them up, ease them down. Here it was a sudden assault on the senses and just as a surprise when they stopped – bam; lighting – use it to enhance the atmosphere/mood or concept. As this was about flawed and true memories, it would have been useful to play with the lighting to create shadows and blended colours. As it was, the lighting at the close was the most creative, as was the welcome addition of some relevant music to which the cast became most alive and engaging as they bid their audience farewell.
The script could have benefited from some editing, and it would have suited television better. Scenes were short and separated by silence and darkness as the minimal set was rearranged. The writer appears to be a TV fan rather than a stage fan. The two are different beasts and plays work much better with longer, more in depth scenes than TV soaps, where you can cut/jump to include a host of familiar story lines. Given this dramatic hurdle – creating delays in the flow of storytelling – choosing some apt music to cover scene changes would have helped keep the audience on board.
The lead, Ryan Farquharson, playing John, was well rehearsed and confident and carried the play through. Additionally, I was impressed by Emily Kidd who gave a strong performance as Erika.
The black box was possibly down to economics, but it is always worth remembering that no visual distraction for the audience creates a wind tunnel for the senses and this visual vacuum demands exceptional acting and an outstanding script.
Despite its weaknesses, I enjoyed my evening. There is nothing quite like live theatre where you witness personal commitment to the part and commitment to one another as a team. This production is, I hope, a leaping-off point and these young people, I hope, go on to create more polished pieces in future.
Reviewer: Kathleen Mansfield
Reviewed: 2nd December 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★