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Theatre Review: Abigail’s Party
The Academy Room, Stonyhurst College
As part of the A level in Theatre Studies, pupils are asked to perform a piece of scripted theatre following in the footsteps of many who have gone before them. The course does require one additional caveat however, that students adhere to the methods of a particular practitioner when preparing, rehearsing and performing the piece. As Abigail’s Party is a Naturalistic piece of theatre, who else to follow, than the master himself – Constantin Stanislavski.
Students followed a meticulous path to their performance, breaking text into units and actions; finding the character’s super-objective and their motivation for each scene, line and even word and clearly understanding the context and portraying the subtext in subtle ways, all with devastating impact.
And so it was that the 5 pupils involved – Dara Akoni, Temi Bamkole, Ryan Coe, Edmund Holmes and Alice Wilks performed their well-researched characters with aplomb, ensuring the audience were left squirming in their seats as the awkwardness of the 1970s drinks party appeared onstage. Worthy of comment was the way in which the pupils created a highly believable assembly of adults from a variety of social backgrounds, each with their own mannerisms and foibles, true to Mike Leigh’s (playwright) intentions. As some relationships developed, others crumbled – the sexual frisson between Beverly and Tony was palpable and had audience members glued to the piece throughout, whilst the pressure of entertaining guests displayed by Lawrence portrayed a darker side of this satirical comedy.
The students should all be proud of their efforts in this particular production, especially as the visiting moderator placed them all in the top band for the Assessment Objective which measures their interpretation of the piece. Well done to them all and best of luck for the written exam.
Mr B Burgess, Head of Drama and Theatre Studies