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Animal Farm at The Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

There was an impressive number of boxes on display in the Northampton University Actors performance of Animal Farm at the Royal & Derngate. Poor old Boxer (Jamie O'Grady) seemed to be the only one dealing with them for a while.

These boxes turned out to be more or less the only bit of the set (bar an occasional ribbon "can I still wear my ribbons?" and an old style microphone), and they sure worked well in this heavily stripped back eighty minute version of Orwell's classic tale of power and destruction.

However as well as the boxes, there was some mighty fine talent on display from the student (who would know?) actors. Playing serious, playing for laughs, or clucking and mooing, the cast was exemplary. I don't doubt that we shall see a lot more of many of these performers.

Its difficult to single out any individuals from such a quality bunch of performers, but Harry Bradbury was commanding as Comrade Napolean, Brigette Wellbelove clipped and precise as Squealer and Richard Harley really was superb in the small role of Minimus, including impromptu mid-show round of applause for his perfectly performed song.

The production also has some glorious fight sequences excellently choreographed by Tom Jordan, which coupled with quality music from musical director DJ Wade added the drama of the story.

Having watched the solid, masterpiece A Tale Of Two Cities a couple of weeks before from the same seat, I did wonder whether a student production could live up to it. However I am thoroughly wrong in ever having a doubt, because this is super solid show of immense quality, with a highly confident cast, and one that can only be highly recommended.

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You have just one more chance to see this performance on Saturday 22nd at 7:45

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