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TUESDAY 19 April 2011

Q&A: OTR Festival Director Julie Amphlett Saint: What is your role with OTR? Julie: Festival Director. I deal with all the budgeting and applying for grants as well as overseeing the whole committee.

MUSICAL

Piramania! The SwashBuckling Musical Dir. Emily Hill and Caroline McCaffrey Musical Dir. Alex Howarth ‘Piramania! - The Swashbuckling Musical’, was just that. It’s a story about pirates, on a pirate ship, with pirates singing songs. However, the show is rather off the beaten track when it comes to your traditional musicals. It’s got incest, the Welsh, a surprising amount of homoeroticism, and naturally a pirate rap.

The humour is bawdy, and at times verges on cheesy or a little crass, but far more often surprises with a hilariously well timed pun or topical reference which had the audience howling. There’s even a bit of audience participation with prize give-away included! The script is original, funny, even

S: Why do you think OTR is important? J: St Andrews has a massive performing arts tradition unlike any other university. There are weekly lunchtime concerts, over 20 plays a year, symphony orchestras, musicals, art exhibitions, dance shows, regular comedy gigs as well as student film and writing. It is matched by a similar wealth of talent throughout St Andrews and across Fife. On The Rocks provides a chance for student and town to come together in a really positive way, celebrate all of this creativity and hopefully have a lot of fun! S: What are you most excited about? J: The children’s project is really close to my heart - it’s really special to see students, children and professional theatre practitioners all working together to produce something. But mostly it’s watching everything come together. Seeing all the set being built, hearing rehearsals and watching people really enjoying the events. S: How long have you been working on this year’s festival? How time consuming is it? J: It starts as soon as the last one ends! Venue booking and funding applications are done over Summer and then programming happens in Autumn and then from Christmas onwards it gets busier and busier with the programme to print, website to update, tech to organise and publicity to get printed. Basically it’s pretty busy from day one!

Alice in Wonderland

THEATRE

at times heart-warming, though has its weaknesses with an occasional awkward moment or some lazy humour; the songs are entertaining and fun, and a few are outstanding. But what really made the show was the cast – every single one of them shone, and without even one the show wouldn’t have been half so good as it was. A natural energy and chemistry about the cast was obvious. They were having fun, so we were having fun. The pirate crew itself was a medley of absurd characters: an embittered and slightly alcoholic narrator, a licentious first mate, and a peg-legged Irishman with a murderous temper, among others. Nathan Elias captured the hearts of the audience as the adorably simple ex-cabin boy, eagerly pulling out his pail and jump-rope upon reaching the much anticipated treasure-island. The singing voices of the cast members were

fantastic, especially Hannah Yellop who started the musical with an incredible solo which was both hilarious and truly impressive. At times the volume of the band overpowered the voices on stage and words were lost, which definitely took away from some songs, but animation of performance always got the point across. The first act is great: funny and full of necessary exposition, but a little long. The show really takes off in the second act, though, where every scene is a hysterical and sometimes shocking race to the finish, the songs are lively and full of action, and a hilarious conclusion comprises, in the play’s own words, “murder, lust, and incestuous conception”. If you’re looking for a show which is just plain fun, while being a little more than what you’d expect, then Piramania comes highly recommended – you’ll be hooked -Randy Jane

52 - A non linear love story

THEATRE

Dir. Andrew Mackie and Emmett Walsh There’s something unruly about children’s theatre. The minute you slap the word ‘children’s’ in front it, it ceases to be capable of achieving something great, and instead settling into the world of mediocrity, only to be seen as ‘great’ by parents, teachers, and relatives. Fortunately, in St Andrews, we do things a bit differently. This year’s Youth Theatre production of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ included as the opening production of On The Rocks, was really surprising. Set in the stunning backdrop of the castle, audience members were transported to a kind of wonderland, complete with delicate props and costumes. What really shone through were the children themselves. They weren’t shy about being out in front of people or afraid of making mistakes. Instead, they took on their characters and had fun with them so we could have some fun too. Notable performances came from the Red Queen, the White

Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, and, of course, Alice herself. Performances needed to be particularly strong since there was no constructed set to work off. However, what was really strong was the freshness in this production. The script was slightly changed to include modern references, most notably the beaver’s name change to ‘Justin Beaver’. Technically, what stood out as innovative were two dolls, one that could fit in your hand, and one that was probably twice the size of Alice. They were used for the scene when she is trying to get into the door right at the start. In terms of acting, how Alice in and out of Wonderland was cleverly done as she was lifted and carried around by the older cast members as the others twirled around to create a kind of dream-like sequence. In short, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ wasn’t just good as children’s theatre; it was good as theatre. -Sophia Latorre-Zengierski

Seeing 52 was a little like seeing a perverse reproduction of all the beautiful and cripplingly awkward moments from your own life played out on stage. It’s a story about a relationship – not a particularly good or bad one, just…a relationship – made up of 52 scenes all written on a deck of cards which, at the start of the show, are thrown into the air and scattered. The play proceeds with each actor picking up a card in turn and acting out the respective scene, so that the order of the show is determined entirely at random. The 52 scenes, some as short as ten seconds, shifted between extreme highs and lows to the most seemingly banal or quaint moments, which sustained the show’s energy as you literally watched the relationship pass before your eyes as more and more cards were picked up. The effect of this is that the play had an uncertainty about it which, given that most relationships are,

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at their core, full of uncertainty, suited the feel of the performance fantastically. The writing of the play was extremely naturalistic, the kind of stuff you effortlessly relate to, and Kate Andrews especially, in the leading female role, had a spontaneity and energy which gave her performance such a feeling of sincerity as to effortlessly pull the audience in. Taylor Wallace, who starred opposite Andrews, was perfectly suited to the role of the well-meaning and slightly bemused boyfriend. More than that, however, both Wallace and Andrews brought a complexity to their characters, especially in the show’s monologues which were particularly strong, which highlighted the truth that life, and especially love, is never a 2-dimensional story of good and bad, but rather a mix of the good, the bad, the happy and the tragic. 52 tells a story, and begins and ends as unfinished as life itself. -Randy Jane


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