Theatre Editors Davina Moss and Laura Peatman look back on a fascinating eight weeks on the stages of Cambridge.
Oh, what a term. We’ve had sun, we’ve had snow. We’ve had Mamet, Shakespeare, haikus and a capella. It’s been hard to keep up – and I’m going to try to find some order in the chaos, some clear themes. The key one has, of course, been blood. There was fake blood in King Lear, Zombie Haiku, Thyestes, Mother Courage and Titus Andronicus (to name but a few) and the varying qualities and uses of fake blood have been a constant source of interest to me – Thyestes and Titus both utilised the make-the-actor-hold-it-in-their-mouths technique, to be lauded for tenacity, but perhaps Zombie Haiku’s repeated-biting-on-capsules method was a little less unpleasant for those performing. I wonder what it is about Lent Term that has led us all to such death and destruction.
It’s also been a big term for student writing, with Pick Me Up, Rookie, Bereavement: The Musical, Moments, the Spring Revue and CODA all entirely student created. With Rookie and Moments both picking up five stars from our critics, and Bereavement: The Musical causing the hype it caused, no one can downplay the skill and innovation of Cambridge’s self-written scene. A different kind of creativity has been featured in the series of fascinating adaptations we’ve seen staged – The Seventh Seal, Uneasy Dreams, The Talented Mr Ripley, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Canterbury Tales, Machine of Death, Zombie Haiku (again) and Passport to Pimlico. It’s refreshing to see different stimuli being used creatively and, often, so successfully. Credit should go to the student creatives out there who have taken the plunge and left their comfort zones – I’m all for this trend continuing in the future.
Every week we’ve struggled to fit everything into these pages and our website has been busier than ever. We may have grumbled here about another Pinter or another Miller, but the truth is it’s been a pretty exciting term.
When sitting down to reflect on a term’s theatrical goings-on, it was interesting to read the ‘What’s On This Term?’ piece that I wrote in Week 1. The verdict: any career inclination towards psychic, oracle or prophet should be abandoned forthwith. Perhaps seems trite to say that it’s been a term of surprises – when does anything happen the way you expect it to in Cambridge? – but it also seems apt. The Footlights Spring Revue, Pilot and even G.G.T.H. didn’t quite live up to the hype, while the spectacle of Mother Courage split the student press, varying wildly from 5 stars (CTR) to 2 (TCS and The Tab). Zombie Haiku which, I will admit, I labelled “already a winner” in this term’s first issue unfortunately only won disparagement and baffled looks from the critics.
On the flipside to this, who would’ve thought that the term’s highlights would prove to be a musical about death and grief, a performance entirely in Ancient Greek, and an almost incomprehensible play about…well, we’re still not sure exactly what it’s about. Nevertheless, Bereavement: The Musical, Ajax, and Aria da Capo are all fully justified highlights of the term for me, showing the full range of creativity that lurks in every corner of the theatre scene here. And rather than winding down towards the holidays, in the past few days I have discovered my Man Of The Term: James Swanton’s performances in The Marlowe Society’s 2012 Graduate Showcase and The Hunchback of Notre Dame blew everyone else out of the water.
So, yes I’ll be trite – it was a term of surprises. Unexpected swans bloomed from potentially ugly ducklings, while some that promised to be nuggets of gold were only brass in the light of day. Although I was right about Cadenza. Fabulous.