That time of year has fallen when things begin to close. Classes dribble to an end, exams peter out, grad shows and performances are all the rage, budding graduands ready to show that yes! they have really learnt something.
Grad performances are always a little bit different to a regular show. You’re going, not just to see a play or a piece of work. You’re going to check out the talent. And then there’s the element of numbers. If it’s a question of a drama school play, how will they fit their whole class into one play? Which will they choose? Will it be a great script or will the actors be compelled to make it great themselves? These were the questions trailing through my mind prior to attending The Actors’ Program‘s season of Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real. I had no clue of what I was in for. No hint of what to expect.
What I found myself in was total confusion, sensory bombardment and ultimately great enjoyment. Set Designer John Parker had transformed The Basement, vintage suitcases, warning tape and chaotically strewn pipe letting us know that this really was a place in flux, of nowhere and everywhere. Ever a fan of a brightly dim stage, Pete Davison nailed the lighting. Moment after moment shadows would fall in such a way that I wished that if only I could close my eyes and snap that moment it would make the most exquisite photo. Greens, whites, reds, dim. Perfect. Completing the visual components, Gayle Jackson had the cast kitted out in cream habiliment, predominantly lingerie, ultimately being a unique balance of deliciously sexy (a bit more so than that featured next door at the moment may I say) whilst still a blank canvas for the cast to work in.
I’ll be honest though, 20 somethings looking phenomenal in lingerie isn’t really that groundbreaking. It doesn’t say all that much about the talent of those wearing it. And sadly for you reading this now, you don’t really have a chance to make a call on this for yourself as their season has ended. I don’t particularly want to rehash any more details of the show, you can use google for that. So instead I’m going to tell you what I’d want to know – who do we want to see again?
I mean it was a grad show right?
Let me begin by saying that between The Actors’ Program, director Benjamin Henson and the cast themselves, the calibre was high. As a whole they should all be quite proud of themselves. But amongst a cast of 15, there were some who quite seriously stole my focus.
I’ll begin with those who I should divulge a slight conflict of interest over. Moana McArtney and Cherie Moore. My conflict is that I’ve had the pleasure of working with these two lovely girls as a member of Out Loud Theatre Company. Yet in spite of my biased opinion I think I can safely say that both were stunning in this show. Cherie took the role of Madame Gutman and made it her own. Gutman was a domineering force on stage, dangerous yet alluring, untouchable. Meanwhile Mo in the role of Marguerite Gaultier was a whirlwind. Dressed in a slinky calf length robe she looked the picture of elegance, willowy, fierce. Perhaps my favourite moment of the show in its entirety came as she fought a convulsing throng, red lights, a swirling fan.
Continuing with the girls, I want to trust my eyes memories of those who got watched the most – Anthea Hill and Hannah Paterson. As La Madrecita and Rosita respectively both exuded an enchanting silence that commanded you to watch them. In respect to Anthea Hill I feel that the role of La Madrecita being a conductor of sorts commands attention regardless, and yet, Anthea, blindfolded throughout, was wonderful, her voice, so so lovely to hear. Hannah’s role was totally different and could perhaps be even totally ignored, sitting slightly on the periphery, however I found myself drawn to watching her. It was a bizarre thing, Rosita in a way begs to be paid attention to but that wasn’t necessarily why I kept watching.
Not wanting to forget the men folk, the ones to watch were Mayen Mehta and Oscar Wilson. Like Anthea as La Madrecita, Oscar Wilson in the role of Kilroy is perhaps understandable. For the unacquainted, Kilroy is in some respects the protagonist of this bizarre affair. But Oscar rocked the role and was a truly delightful Kilroy indeed. In regards to Mayen Mehta I’ll be honest and say that I actually have no idea why he stood out as he did. And yet, he stands out as someone I’d want to see again. He is one I expressly remember.
The Actors’ Program has produced what appears at this glance at least to be a great crop of young actors. I envy these guys intensely for the experience they’ve been privy to this past year. But I’m also pretty excited to see what some of these kids do next. You know when you watch someone and you think, ‘Damn, I’d love to see them do this role or that role’?
Well you lot, I’m thinking that for you.