Skip to main content

My review of Ophelia's Garden by the RDYouthTheatre at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

I have a special interest in the Royal & Derngate Youth Theatre's React-Respond after my play The Grandfather Clock was the very first play to be performed last year in its inception. The idea is that the theatre group reacts to the current Made In Northampton production with an original slightly themed response to the story within. Last year audience members were given the chance to submit ten minute plays to be performed in response to the then production Gaslight. Mine and three others had the honour to start the React-Respond ball rolling.

This time the youth theatre were to take existing work, that of William Shakepeare himself and weave it into a production linked to The Herbal Bed. Using sonnets and extracts from his work, director Ben Spiller took the young actors and ourselves to the not too distant future where children have once again become the ownership of their fathers after an old law is revived. Ophelia (Jasmine Smellie), who herself is banned from going out with Hamlet (Sophie Martin) invites all her friends to her garden for a peaceful protest.

Over the course of just twenty minutes or so each of the eighteen actors gets their moment to take front of stage as with a partner they perform brief little extracts from the Bard relating to their characters. I am far from an expert of Mr Shakespeare, so much, perhaps all of the pieces were unfamiliar to me. However many of the characters will be known, so as well as the aforementioned, we have Romeo (Jessica Rivett) and Juliet (Francesca Hall), and Benedick (Verity Sprigg) and Beatrice (Jodi Twinner).

It all combines into making an entertaining piece with all of the actors showing great understanding of the work they are performing and placing good performance into their brief opportunity. There was a massive nine of the performers back on stage from my own little play and it was excellent to see them all again for the first time since, with the exception of Samantha Skears who I had the pleasure of seeing in The Crucible in December. It was superb to see the Hall sisters (Safia and Francesca) who always bring much to their performances. I felt that Joseph Hedley was also great value as Orlando, and I am going to go along with the fact that little extra chant was meant to be there because it was a great moment. One standout performance that I must mention though is Beth Markey as Lorenzo. Putting such emotion into the role, it was an albeit brief but exceptional moment.

So once again a lovely little piece of theatre entertainment from a few actors of the future created with some flair from director Ben Spiller and a worthy continuation of the React-Respond theme. It returns once again for the Made In Northampton performance of Soul and it is then open for public submissions (sharpens typing fingers). Give it a go, its great fun even if you are not lucky enough to be selected.


Performance reviewed: Saturday 20th February, 2016 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

Ophelia's Garden was performed at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate) on Saturday 13th and Saturday 20th, 2016.


For details about the next Royal-React-Respond see: http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/Productions/290220/282700/Resources/SoulrRRR?view=Standard

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Madame Bovary by Masque Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

Rosanna Lowe's version of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary was originally commissioned by Simon Godwin for the Northampton Royal Theatre, so it perhaps seems apt, that it returns to a stage of the same town, in this new wacky interpretation from Masque Theatre.

Masque's publicity for the show, describes it as a "madcap tragedy", and for those more familiar with Flaubert's novel you shall perhaps be a little surprised by the anarchic version created here. This is tragedy played for full-on slapstick effect, and while at times it might seem overwhelming in its intensity, the ride we are taken on is a delight.

Directed by Tamsyn Payne and Alex Rex and a team of talented creatives, Madame Bovary's props and design are every bit as important as the talented cast wielding them. For an amateur production, the attention to detail is nothing short of staggering. Gloriously created books filled with delights, puppet dogs and children, mini nuns, and little baskets…

Review of The Selfish Giant at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The Selfish Giant is a curious one. I left uplifted and genuinely happy by the whole affair, yet slightly perturbed as to whether at its heart, it was actually as good as the heart was saying.

Based on a short story by Oscar Wilde, songwriter and musician Guy Chambers has given the piece a musical workover. The Giant (played by Jeff Nicholson) has a wonderful garden which the local children love to play in. However, this is a selfish giant after all, so, annoyed by their presence, he builds a wall to prevent them from entering. The scene is set for this story of personal redemption.

Creating a sung-through musical is a challenge, and Chambers succeeds in The Selfish Giant, although perhaps at the cost of a great deal of variety to the pieces. The weakness of The Selfish Giant always lies at the heart of both lacking numbers you take with you after the show, and indeed variety. The appearance of the giant, in the pacy and deep, real deep, vocals in The Angry Giant is one clear example,…

Review of UoN Fringe: PROJECT 25 by Unorthodox Theatre Collaborations at The Platform, Northampton

This production from Unorthodox Theatre Collaborations is a curious one to review, as I didn't see all of it. PROJECT 25 you see is an immersive, interactive play, where we the audience become very much part of the emerging story.

We are introduced, after being name-checked and tagged, to The Platform, a pharmaceutical company that has come up with the perfect drug that could save the health care system. Or so they say.

The play launches with a smart little-choreographed routine from the cast (and some extra actors), which culminates in company staff member Amy Brown (Jemma Bentley) being sacked and expelled from the building. As Bentley is a cast member, we, of course, know that her return will happen, but in what form?

After this neat and impactful opening, we are led into another room and presented with a glossy and technically impressive launch from the company team Pandora Pearson (Bobbie-Lee Scott) and James Van Laren (Daniel Peace). Following this, we are subjected to a sc…