R M Foster give us his review of Epicene, last week’s production.


 

“Did you think you had married a statue?”

The moment Epicene delivers this crucial line, the audience cannot help but smile with her as she brings old Morose’s high hopes tumbling down and thus opens the door for all of the hilarity of a seventeenth century farce to ensue.

Despite valiant efforts to bring everything together on the night last year, Peter Sutton’s team’s last production, “The Alchemist”, was a little rough around the edges with forgotten lines and cast changes a few moments before the show.  As a result, it was with a little trepidation that I took my seat to see his and Anna Jones’ production of “Epicene – the silent woman.” However, my fears were quickly allayed.

Whether it be through sheer chance or luck or through expert selection on the part of the director(s), the cast proved themselves to be undeniably expert. One can only praise them. Rarely have I encountered such a genuinely strong bunch, each actor with their own grins, winks, gestures and little idiosyncrasies that made each in what was a rather large cast, truly memorable. I left the theatre smiling, having been thoroughly entertained by a performing force which rivalled some performances by the Scottish Opera.

With a cast so worthy of their applause it is difficult to pinpoint one or two individuals to praise above the rest, but honourable mentions must go to a few stars who shone particularly brightly.

Callum Douglas was superb. His natural charm, slight swagger and the deliverance of his lines with such ease perfectly suited the slightly unkempt but devilishly charming posh-boy Dauphine. I couldn’t help but be taken in by the wry smile and innocent cheek. My only complaint is that I haven’t seen this rising star sooner – take heed, Mermaids…

Tyler Anderson exuded sultry mystery while maintaining doe-eyed innocence throughout her entire performance, exploding with emotion in just the right places and revealing her character to be incredibly calculating and clever. Spot on. It was so refreshing to see someone known for her directorial skill and creative vision on stage herself.

James Rowlands proved to be a solid choice for Clerimont, although I would like to have seen him relax a little more into his role.  It would have helped him avoid a few tiny trips of speech. Rowlands performed very well; with confidence and vigour and with a tiny amount more polish; can prove himself to be an absolute diamond.

For sheer entertainment value alone, mentions must go to Rahul Srivastava, Alice Gold and Andrew Chalmers – rarely have I genuinely laughed so much as I did at these three clearly, extremely skilled performers. Srivastava performed with energy and bounce, annunciating every single one of Johnson’s carefully penned words beautifully, so that the audience might take each one in and consider it, before returning to smile at the sheer comedy of his expert navigation of Morose’s ridiculous character. Chalmers was a pleasure to watch as he sauntered onto the stage at each entrance with flamboyance, ease and sparkle. His playing with Johnson’s words was unique – hitting with comic effect each word, making his performance one of the most memorable I have encountered in St Andrews. Alice Gold exploded onto the stage with an energy I have rarely before seen and did her character and the rest of the cast justice as well as inducing more than one belly laugh from me. My only two disappointments are that she was not on stage sooner and that she is not performing at Glyndebourne or in Leicester Square – I would be buying a ticket.

Praise must fall on Peter Sutton for his expert realization of such a dense text and difficult production and on Anna Jones for her key production role and for once again stepping in to the breech to play not one but two roles at the last minute.

Despite being a little rough in parts with cast shuffling around in the wings and audibly talking, all I can say is well done team Epicene.

4 stars

 

 

R M Foster