site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

The Rep College - After Midnight - Before Dawn and Other Plays

20th to 22nd January 2005.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Learning from grass roots of rep

The Rep College: After Midnight - Before Dawn and Other Plays, at New Greenham Arts, from Thursday, January 20 to Saturday, January 22

Options for learning their craft from the grass roots of rep are few and far between for actors. The Rep College sets out to fill this gap, and it was their students who presented the three plays at New Greenham Arts, under the direction of Kingsley Glover.

The minimal set was inspired; three grey 'stone' arches becoming in turn a medieval background to those accused of witchcraft, doorways to death and, finally, the gateway to heaven.

After Midnight was dramatic, with the doomed desperately trying to sell their souls via the calm one (Martine Gilman) who already had.

Though Natalie Rowan's accent was insecure as the village girl resisting temptation, she successfully established the tension screaming the Lord's Prayer as her friends circled around (widdershins) eerily chanting.

The Long Christmas Dinner was a clever play, covering American family life over several generations and freezing the action to note the passing of time. Lucia (Sacha Appleton) and Roderick (Michael Diana) excelled as the first couple and Matthew Meikle was very believable as ageing Cousin Brandon.

The next generation, Charles (Matt Tully), Genevieve (Karlie Neale) and Leonora (Kelly Lifford-Gregory) also turned in good performances, but unfortunately there were too many instances of poor stabs at an American accent, something vital to give the characters credence.

The Man Who Wouldn't Go To Heaven saw Henry Steele as a superb Thariel, complete with wings, clocking in those who had shuffled off their mortal coil.

Recalcitrant Richard Alton (Vincent Youngman) established his character well, though he became less fluent in the final impassioned speeches.

Other good performances came from the talented Madeleine Feather, playing Eliza Muggins with a touch of Prunella Scales, and Matt Tully's Reverend John McNulty as a ranting Ian Paisley.

The twist at the end, involving Michael Diana changing from mad politician to The One who ruled, was unexpected and required talent, which he undoubtedly has.

Brownie points go to whoever designed the informative programme. However, it seemed less professional to have those who change props between plays wearing stage clothes in front of their audience.

Of course there is much to learn - that is why these young actors are at the college - but they provided an interesting and entertaining evening, which means they're on the way.