✮✮✮ – St Anne’s – As We Forgive Those
✮✮ – Queen’s – Sappho in Palestine
✮✮✮✮ -Brasenose – Macbevved
✮✮✮✮ – St Anne’s – Victoria Station
Friday afternoon at Cuppers presented a mix of tones and styles; first on was Andrew Smith’s As We Forgive Those by St. Anne’s. The play depicts Sophie, her sister Alex, and Sophie’s roommate Jen, as Alex arrives at Sophie’s flat after having left things on bad terms four-year’s ago. In spite of a few stiff scenes, the acting was commendable, with Hayes’ portrayal as the troubled younger sister especially impressive. The play’s underlying Christian message (that forgiveness is somehow inextricably tied to Christianity), however, felt somewhat shoehorned in; Bible verses were literally stuck to the back of the tickets.
Next up was Sappho in Palestine by Queen’s college, a new piece written by Alexander Hartley. It was ambitious in its combination of a challenging political backdrop with a classical poet speaking about war and peace added. The play centres around two political fundamentalists who plan to assassinate their respective leaders. The performances were unfortunately plagued by the static feel of the play’s action. Dialogue was made up of long speeches that felt very much more like isolated monologues. The production did, however, include some nice aesthetic touches, such as fabric petals being released from actors’ hands to depict spilt blood. Sappho (Olivia Rohll) was sadly not an integral part of the play, and so although Rohll’s acting was very effective, her performance was unable to lift the miring pace of the production.
Family drama and assassinations aside (although not entirely), we move on to Macbevved, a radicalisation of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’. Macbevved is set in a nightclub where Macbeth is a barman striving to own ‘King’ Duncan’s chain of clubs after he listens to the ramblings of three drunken girls on the dance floor. The play flits between sobriety and (faux – I think) drunkenness, reality and fantasy, and the serious and the ridiculous. A committed Lady Macbeth demands to be unsexed, and is then followed on by Banquo singing the words to ‘Mamma Mia’ with some rather frightening dance moves. Everybody loved the premise too much to care whether it worked or not. Gregory Coates’ portrayal of Macbeth is a standout performance, amongst a cast with great chemistry overall. With a fun soundtrack and a crowd-pleasing musical number to finish, this play is a strong contender for the top 10 and for an award win.
Comedy took a darker turn in Pinter’s Victoria Station, the work of another St. Anne’s team. The play involves a cab controller giving telephone instructions to driver #274 to pick up a rich client from Victoria Station. Naomi Morris Omori’s direction is compelling and the dialogue is comic and at times fraught; both actors perform superbly. Davidson communicates the driver’s scramble for control over the situation, while Lucas manages to portray a nervousness and instability within the driver that doesn’t cross over into caricature. Omori mentions in the programme that the production altered the play from a two-person cast to three, so that it included the passenger on stage. In contrast to the driver’s confusion, her place on stage adds a sense of certainty, a locus for the audience to latch onto. Despite her presence providing a sense of eeriness at the start, however, it seemed increasingly superfluous the more time she spent on stage.