Skip to main content

Review of Days Of Significance - University Of Northampton BA Actors at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Following the emotional trauma of Blue Stockings, for my second play from the University of Northampton's third years, it would have been nice to have a gentle cool down. Days Of Significance telling the story of love lives and their own fears for a future on the front line in Iraq was not to provide it. Never in my experience so far have I been welcomed to a play with such aggressive and upfront material as this from Roy Williams. A barrage of F words, a minor mortar of a prosthetic penis hanging limply from an actors trousers and then an artillery shell of C words to make sure the enemy/audience is totally wiped out. I am quite frankly not surprised that an elderly couple did leave the show relatively early in the first half as despite our understanding that this was a war themed play, we were little prepared for the "Battle Of Bridge Street" opening, to give it a local theme.

Fortunately myself, while not likely to partake in verbals to this extreme, rarely, maybe never has found himself offended. I only think personally that constant use of swearing in work is quite frankly lazy. Sadly in this work, much of it is totally lazy. The problem on top of the barrage of expletives is that it gives little for the audience to like about the characters. This play is absolutely brimming with just really horrible people. Even in a challenging play, you need people that you like to get an edge into the play. At the end of the two hours, I think quite honestly the only one I slightly liked was Lenny, the only old character in the play. The rest I never wanted to ever see again.

However having totally destroyed this totally horrible play, I must get onto the performers. While I am sure they loved breathing life into these people, I remain and always will feel sorry that they had to do it. Performances however are top notch with very few letting the side down. Many of the actors were playing opposing gender roles to stir things up and in these I particularly enjoyed Matilda Hunt and Sophie Guiver's performances. Hunt suitably repulsive (a compliment) and the aforementioned sufferer of limp male appendage, while Guiver once again the tough gritty portrayal that she does so well.

Stuart Warren pops up again after his repellent character of Blue Stockings, and while he is not exactly likeable, it is a tremendously different character, It is a wonderful opportunity to see this contrast in performances so quickly and he certainly does not fail in bringing life into a new character.

I really enjoyed watching Penelope May as Hannah, again while this was a character constantly trying to be detestable, she very nearly made her portrayal someone to like. Most especially towards the end when the performance was getting towards the tenderness that I would so have liked one character in this play to exhibit. She was also in two of the best scenes of the play with that brief heartwarming dance with Jamie (Connor McAvoy) and later that awkward challenging one with Lenny (a quite brilliant Jake Rivers).

The final individual mention must go to the ever reliable Aoife Smyth as Trish. Once again I hated the character, however I absolutely loved everything about the performances. Stark and brash to the extreme, it was everything needed of the horrid character and Miss Smyth remains one of my ones to watch.

So the University actors did not let the side down and while I fully understand why this play would be selected as a tremendously challenging piece for them to perform. I remain quite clear in my opinion that picking it was one step too far to endear these plays to an audience outside that of family, students and friends. One which these shows deserve. I hope quite honestly that the couple that left were family, as I would be horrified that a couple of casual viewers could be put off from attending these wonderful shows again. So the most horrible play I have seen the Uni actors perform, but still brimming with top notch performances.


Performance reviewed: Friday 17th March, 2016 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton.
Days Of Significance was one of three show  performed at the Royal by the University Of Northampton BA (Hons) Actors between Wednesday 16th to Saturday 19th March, 2016.
Details of each are below.

Blue Stockings: http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whatson/2016-2017/Royal/uonBS
Days Of Significance: http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whatson/2016-2017/Royal/uonDOS
Welcome To Thebes: http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/Productions/290220/282506/UONwtt

Details of Royal & Derngate can be found by visiting their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Blue/Orange at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The challenging and socially relevant Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall was published in 2000 and back then, this caustic exploration of mental health, and more specifically black mental health issues, was a tremendously relevant play. When it debuted on stage in London, the cast of just three was played by Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Director James Dacre doesn't have those names to play with so much in his cast, however here, he has worked with the writer himself to rework the play for a more modern audience. Does it still shock, and is the relevance still there today? Sadly, perhaps, the answer is yes, as doctors Bruce Flaherty and Robert Smith come to verbal blows over the health of patient Christopher, at times, you feel 21 years shed little light on how mental health is approached. Many references in the script, still sit unquestionably in the year 2000, however, with this reworking, one thing has changed dramatically. In the original version of the play, the two

Review of Shrek (NMTC) at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Three and a half years ago, in a land far far away, in a world very different to the one we are now in, I saw the touring professional production of Shrek The Musical , it was a mixed bag of quality, tilted extremely heavily in favour of one particular character (not the one you might expect) and not firing on all cylinders much of the time. One and a half years after my last visit to the Derngate theatre, I return to see the homegrown Northampton Musical Theatre Company's own take on the very same show. Would they be able to breathe more life into the show than the professionals did in that distant land? It is a bit of a yes and no really. Pretty much all of this is done to the best possible standard, and at times, with being an amateur show you could easily forget, they all have normal day jobs. The show oozes professional quality at times. The set looks magnificent, the costumes (from Molly Limpet's Theatrical Emporium) are superb, and as ever with NMTC, the backstage team c

Review of Sister Act by the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

South Pacific at Royal & Derngate last year set a remarkable benchmark for an "amateur" production, with a large talented cast, superb vocals, sets and a polish up there with a professional production. Sister Act, this years production from the Northampton Musical Theatre Company was more of the same, but perhaps taken up a notch or two. Sister Act is a musical based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg comedy and was first performed in 2009. Written by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, it is a likable and fun musical which genuinely came as a surprise to me. The opening scene at Curtis's Bar and Nightclub is to be honest not the best though and genuinely didn't fill me with much hope. It feels as if it gives nothing to the cast, although it creates the premise of the story coupled with the incident outside the bar. Likewise, I didn't take much to the Police Station scene either, so it didn't bode well. When we reach the Queen Of Angels Cathedral though, this show