Theatre Review: And She Cried Mercy

And She Cried Mercy (1)Kelly Schweizer reviews And She Cried Mercy, the second St Andrews show put on by playwright and director Rory Mackenzie. The producer was Emily Poe. And She Cried Mercy went up 12th and 13th March in the Barron Theatre. And She Cried Mercy promised to be 'a dark comedy of institutions, booze and boob jobs' and it certainly lived up to its claim. This play is funny. I am not ashamed to admit that I was one of many laughing along throughout the play. Admittedly my roommate wasn’t laughing quite as loudly, but some of the jokes weren’t for the squeamish.The play follows two parallel pairings of characters entering new stages in their lives: Belinda and Jenny, and Anthony and Colin. Jenny —played brilliantly by Emma Taylor— has recently experienced a change of fortune and is starting a new school that bears some resemblance to Hogwarts (or so she thinks), whilst Anthony is introduced to his new cellmate after being sent to prison. In their new ventures, they each meet interesting new characters: Belinda, head girl at the prestigious all-female school Jenny has just enrolled in, and Colin, a character who is, at best, difficult to describe.

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The minimalistic set and clever use of lighting highlighted whichever duo was being focused upon, avoiding confusing transitions and allowing the audience’s attention to stay on the witty dialogue that flew between actors. The script was fast, intense and really displayed the actors’ depth of talent.Baxter Gaston was incredible as Colin, which was not an easy role to play by any means. As I already mentioned, I cannot summarise his character in a few lines. In fact, I probably could not even do it in a page. Rory Mackenzie, who wrote this amazing piece, has created a wonderfully complex character that delivered some of the best comic lines in the play. My second mention definitely has to go to Emma Taylor as the incredibly funny Jenny.

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But then And She Cried Mercy approached its end and, just as I thought I'd figured it all out, it surprised me yet again. This play handled some serious and slightly gruesome issues with tact and skill, demonstrating that the cast’s skill was not limited to comedy. Even though some of the more graphic scenes occurred offstage, they were still disturbing and perhaps not for the fainthearted. It was in these grittier moments that we got to see the incredible talent of the actors to their fullest extent. Kelly SchweizerPhoto credits: Lee Pope, and PINUP

Theatre Review: Don Quixote

DON QUIXOTEBeth Worlock reviews Don Quixote, directed by Mattia Mariotti and produced by Olga Loza, which went up in Venue 1 on Monday, 10th March and Tuesday, 11th March. Check out the Tribe's preview interview hereFaced with the prospect of reviewing a production starring one of The Tribe’s own (Dominic Kimberlin as the eponymous Quixote), I couldn’t help but feel apprehensive when I sat down in Venue 1. Much to my relief —and, assuredly, more so to the relief of the cast and crew— Don Quixote, directed by Mattia Mariotti and produced by Olga Loza, was a weird yet wonderful adaptation of Cervantes' classic novel. For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, Don Quixote follows the story of a middle-aged man and his quest to restore chivalry to Spain. On his travels he picks up a faint-hearted sidekick Sancho Panza and they embark on numerous adventures, meeting a number of similarly interesting characters along the way. 

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 Although the on-going redevelopment of the Union has rendered Venue 1 a space associated with the ending of a bad night on the town, the production team did incredibly well to transform the stage, allowing audience interaction at a very personal level. Despite a few audio difficulties, the lighting and sound crew deftly captured the tense yet silly aspects of the play with bright colours and a recurrent, crackly voice-over effect. 

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 As for the cast —the biggest of any show I have ever had to review, spoiling me for choice in recognitions— they did a sterling job of drawing the audience into the action. Special mentions include Collin Looh as Sancho Panza, Shaun Tan as Ginés de Pasamonte and Peter Von Zahnd as Rosinante, Don Quixote’s French existentialist horse. All three gave brilliant performances in roles that predominantly provided comic relief and were a pleasure to watch. 

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 Finally, we come to Don Quixote himself. You definitely can’t accuse Dominic Kimberlin of not throwing himself into the title role. From his alarming arrival —in which he burst out of a small box that I can only imagine had him squeezed into a compromising position— to his enthusiastic rolling about the stage, there is no doubt in my mind that Dominic was not only dedicated to doing the part justice, but also that he loved performing, which is always a pleasure to see. His relationship with Collin on stage was particularly special; they complemented each other’s acting techniques perfectly, and they were both evidently enjoying interacting on stage. 

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 This production of Don Quixote might do particularly well at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Although there was not a large audience at this event compared to others I have reviewed, it would be better appreciated in a festival atmosphere. The performance was captivating and full of laughs, and the audience members were clearly enjoying themselves. 

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 Natural cast chemistry was integral to the success of the show; this camaraderie was perfectly exemplified by the double high-five I witnessed happening backstage after a scene had ended —although I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t supposed to see that. Though Don Quixote’s run may be over for now, if you see any of this cast and crew working together in the future, make sure to go and see them. You won’t be disappointed. Beth Worlock Photo credit: Olga Loza, SungYeul Lee