“Wonderful, shambolic and mad!” Georgia Wagstaff said in her introduction to Hatch, which was advertised as ‘a showcase of the best new writing from students in Cambridge’. Shambolic it definitely wasn’t. Mad? Perhaps on occasion. But wonderful makes for the most accurate description.
Hatch was an engaging collection of performances which were as diverse technically as they were topically. The atmosphere stopped short of spellbinding, but it was warm, informal and encouraging. At first, the Corpus Playroom seemed too small, since not all of the performers could fit around the edge of the stage, but in the end it proved to be a brilliant setting. The close, bare space was intimate, dispelling any sense of ceremony and creating a feeling of affinity between the performers and their audience.
The majority of Hatch’s poetry came from female performers. Although love is an unavoidable, arguably cliched subject in such collections, Catriona Stirling’s sonnets were enchanting, capturing snapshots of two different relationships with touching honesty. Charlotte Higgins also wore her heart on her sleeve in her performance of “Funeral Ties”, and her gentle, heartfelt delivery drew the room into a reflective silence in the midst of Hatch’s more lively comedic scenes.
Despite its short preparatory period, Hatch’s organisation was efficient, its turnover between performances quick, and its participants well-prepared. Max Toomey’s recurring pieces pondering the pros and cons of training a moose gave the production a sense of continuity, although three contributions may have proved better than four.
Mark Milligan’s fridge musings were hilarious. Julia Kass’ reading of “Be My” by Ivy Fitzgerald was exquisitely vain. Kyung Oh’s “How to be a young person” seemed to be an audience favourite, and Luke Sumner’s “Like” was fantastic, hitting the perfect balance between awkward comedy and the uncomfortable realities of our fixation with internet memes and social networking.
However, it was Rupert Featherstone’s “Unspoilt” which stole the show, providing stunningly realistic, imaginative insights into the lives of a string of anonymous women. Nisha Emich’s subtle mix of strength and vulnerability made her performance the most poignant of the four actresses on stage, but Sam Brain’s flawless delivery and angry embodiment of Featherstone’s sharp-tongued script was the performance of the night.
Despite a small number of timid pieces, Hatch provided an interesting blend of earnest and slightly off-centre performances which made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening and a fresh appreciation of the talents burgeoning within our student body.