The Michaelmas Term programme at the Stahl Theatre featured three School productions, one House play and three professional performances:
Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo directed by Matthew Burlington
This amazingly talented cast had just three weeks to stage Fo’s most famous satirical comedy. This would have been a monumental task for professional actors working eight hours a day, but to achieve the standard of performance they did was truly remarkable. The piece moved at an astounding pace with actors and audience members alike barely able to catch their breath, as moment after moment of delightful physical comedy and witty word play poured from the Stahl stage. Oliver Ravenhill (L) was superb in his dexterous performance as the Maniac. Sharp, charismatic and ever so slightly terrifying, he brought a zany exuberance to the role – an impressive way to mark his Stahl debut.
Holes by Tom Basden directed by Ned Friej (L)
D5 in Old Dryden is seldom used as a performance venue, but it was great to see it in action for the Sixth Form production of Holes. The intimate studio setting creates a completely different performance atmosphere to that of the Stahl. This brilliantly plotted piece of tragicomic writing by Tom Basden was skilfully directed by Ned Freij (L). His four-strong cast of Harun Tekin (S), Ally Nelson (L), Grace Gibson (K) and Georgie Pringle (W) deserve much praise for the precision and energy with which they charted the journey of the text. These experienced actors managed to wring every moment of mirth out of the comedic sections whilst delicately observing its more sobering denouement.
The Lady Killers by Graham Lineham directed by Tom Jowitt (StA)
A cast of experienced and debutant actors combined to provide plenty of laughs, as well as some more sinister moments in this well-known black comedy about a gang of hardened criminals, played by Alex Kapadia, Igor Latsanych, Jamie Peckett, William Nokes. Led by the quick thinking Professor Marcus (Henry Gardiner), the criminals attempted to masquerade as musicians and pull off a heist whilst trying not to be discovered by the local Constable (Ben Grace), their unwitting landlady Mrs Wilberforce (brilliantly played by James Carr), or her parrot (Jamo Morrill). The production had guest performances from Tommy Simeons, Giles Mallinson and Ken Zhao, all of whom donned tights, wigs and dresses to appear as Mrs Wilberforce’s friends, and was ably supported by the efficient crew of Ben Marshall, Hector James, Ben Clayden and George Hayles.
Sleeping Beauty by Rufus Norris directed by Naomi Jones
The Stahl season was brought to a dazzling close with this quirky and irreverent production of Sleeping Beauty. During rehearsals, the cast were fortunate to take part in two workshops from visiting professionals. In September, former War Horse puppeteer Abigail Matthews led the company in a puppetry masterclass, followed later in the rehearsal process by actor Elizabeth Hill, who was in the original production of Rufus Norris’ Sleeping Beauty. A brilliant ensemble of performers conjured a world of strange forest creatures and sycophantic courtiers, of slaves and thug-like thorns. There were memorable performances from Isabel Macintosh (K) as the spirited Beauty and Isobel Prothero (L) as the flesh-hungry mother-in-law from hell. Princes Ben Groom (B) and Charlie Cobb (S) delighted with their contrasting versions of Prince, one overly cowardly, one overly macho. And the Goodys, Mirabel Agyemang (N), Arya Samrai (StA) and Tara Boyle (L), expertly captured this unlikely Fairy’s unwavering desire to do and make amends, against all the odds. Accompanied by live music from Flash Mitra (StA) on the electric guitar, under the skilful musical direction of Nicholas Warden, this bizarre production challenged our traditional notion of what a fairy tale really is.