report on the All-England Theatre Festival Eastern Area Final by Chris Butler
23 May 2015 saw the Eastern Area Final of the All-England Drama Festival,
held this year at the Barn Theatre Oxted.
four plays in the programme (two in the afternoon two in the evening) held out
considerable promise, with the evening plays both being original pieces.
"The Underground Lovers" by Jean Tardieu presented by Woking
This was a translation of the play by Colin Duckworth.
play is described as an exploration of love and communication and draws upon allegory
and semantics, some of which do not translate easily for the benefit of the audience.
The Underground Lovers was an extremely courageous undertaking for this youth
group (under 21) and it has to be said that Woking College achieved everything
and more that was expected of them. From the opening lines, the play was delivered
at an amazing pace. The transitions between scenes were faultless and within minutes
the audience were in thrall.
set was minimalistic but the cast created visual images which helped the audience
to follow the progress of the play. Of particular note must be the representation
of the underground escalator which in the first five minutes was a triumph of
choreography. Clever use was made of this strong cast, with two parts being split
across several actors. The allegory of Hero and Lysander held the piece together
very well, however I found the semantics surrounding "advocate and advocacy" somewhat
more complicated to follow.
summary, a play which was at times humorous, at times thought-provoking. I have
to say it left me with a real sense of the loneliness and separation experienced
by the Underground Lovers!!
College were worthy Festival Winners
"Interview" by Jean-Claude van Itallie presented by Woodhouse Players
play was originally part of a trilogy and was written at a time in the history
of the United States when America was embroiled in all-out war in Vietnam and
in the opinion of the playwright and others, the so called "American Dream" diverged
from the reality of the experience of its citizens. The Interview portrays the
feeling of disenfranchisement experienced throughout the social strata of the
beginning, masked interviewers set about destroying the applicant's belief in
themselves by asking a series of questions, designed it seems, to demean and confuse
latter stage of the play depicts a series of vignettes in which the applicants
(through monologue) display their moral and physical disintegration to a point
where each finally implodes. I am not certain the play holds out the promise that
redemption is even possible.
confident cast delivered this complex piece at a pace which at times the audience
felt was hard to follow and variations in pace of delivery and the occasional
pause would have helped.
"Macbeth 2015" by Troy Chessman after William Shakespeare
presented by Runnymede Drama Group
was a highly stylised modern interpretation of Macbeth, which with clever editing
had managed to sustain the prose style of the original.
three witches had become homeless strangers, with the men becoming Captains of
Industry, albeit thoroughly unpleasant. Creative use of lighting (especially in
the use of red light to depict murder scenes), enabled the pace to be maintained
bravura performance by Macbeth, who had also written and directed Macbeth 2015
was rightly recognised by the award of the Adjudicator's
Room" by Chris Brake presented by Alternate Shadows
original play in which the author played a lead character and also directed the
was fortunate enough to review this play when it appeared in the Southern Counties
Drama Festival. It is described as a grotesque satirical comedy about the politics
behind going to war, that said, it is a multi layered comedy played entirely inside
a nuclear bunker, at a pace which almost leaves the audience breathless. The gags
are non stop, the action is continuous, the visual humour is there throughout.
A very clever and very funny play, which leaves you wanting more (or less of politicians)!!
worthy winner of the Christine Britton Technical Merit