The Trip

Thu 24th – Sat 26th May 2012

reviews

Anca Farcas

at 23:32 on 24th May 2012

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By the way it was described on the official poster, 'The Trip' promised to provide an almost psychoanalytically deep immersion into the psychology of happiness and the inner workings of the mind. I was really excited to see what an encounter on the London underground would have to offer in terms of character development and unfolding of a relationship drama. Although such a topic held so much potential, it proved to be a rather prosaic love story, with boy meets girl, but instead of living happily ever after, girl dies, boy doesn’t know how to pick up the pieces so kills himself, causing anguish to people who are close to him. I am not trivializing such a plot; however, to pull this sort of dramatic cliché off, you would need an incredible degree of artistic maturity which I believe the main characters (Tommy and Anita) unfortunately could not deliver. And this was a bit obvious, as I am not convinced that the small audience was in any way enthralled, which is a shame given the amount of work that goes into organizing such an event.

The performance definitely had a great opening scene, and the future couple’s first conversation on the tube had a certain innocent sweetness, humour and wittiness, and I think these kind of roles would suit Fen Greatley better. The evolution of the main pair was portrayed in too fast a transition, from barely meeting to realizing they belong together, which I guess contributed to the audience’s lack of empathy for Tommy’s loss. A bit more time dedicated to perhaps showing more delicate affectionate scenes, their building up and strengthening of the relationship, would have helped the public grow fond of the couple, appreciate its intimate beauty, and thus experience the pain of separation and feel close to the message of the play. Without this chance and connection with the audience, the main character’s strong personal experience turned into plain Acting, and this generally prevents any script from blossoming. In this respect, the brother and his wife (interpreted by Brook Hewett and Gupreet Narwan) had a much more powerful and intense delivery, capturing the strength of a solid uncomplicated relationship and the agony of going through the loss of someone dear together.

In terms of settings, although simplistic, they did a perfectly good job at illustrating the situation; by far the best special effect was the beautifully chosen music, it completed the cozy atmosphere which using The Cellar as a location already partly supplied.

Despite a rather unoriginal script, the actors came through to give us a glimpse into the complicated paths of the heart, and the complete failure of the desire to live after you think you lost the sole reason and motivation to exist. I generally am of the opinion that all students productions should be encouraged and seen, and this is no exception.

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Suwita Hani Randhawa

at 02:02 on 25th May 2012

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It is not often one gets the opportunity to watch a play at an ‘unconventional’ venue in Oxford. And so watching a play in one of Oxford’s underground music venues – The Cellar – was a novel experience. Being literally underground added tremendously to the vibe at the start of the play, especially because the play’s opens with scenes during a ride on The Tube. The London Underground sign hung on set was particularly apt, as was the darkness and dinginess of The Cellar.

However, the play seemed to bank too much on its unusual venue to create its sense of atmosphere. There needed to be more by way of added ambiance throughout the play. In the opening scenes, for instance, perhaps some Tube announcements, a greater sense of the crowd on the train, or the noise of the train as it speeds along the track. Music is used fairly regularly – snippets of charming indie songs – but they seemed to serve the purpose of indicating the end of scenes, rather than to create or enhance atmosphere. Other scenes revolved around one main prop – a bed – and the general emptiness of the stage only added to the lack of atmosphere.

Substantively, the play was rather disappointing. There is not much depth to this play as it rehearses a well-known and popular theme: something along the lines of the modern day Romeo and Juliet. Once we come to realize this, we know what to expect well before the play is over. And so in the end, one finds oneself enjoying the play more for the actors’ performance as opposed to the plot or storyline.

The acting is very convincing and there is a real sense that the actors were feeling their characters. Unfortunately, the characters themselves are not particularly developed and so on the whole, they are rather dull and uninteresting. At times, the characters’ lines are somewhat clichéd and this only adds to their dullness. And so while the acting is probably the play’s main strength, there were times when I got the sense that I was watching a soppy drama on the telly rather than a theatre performance.

Unfortunately, this play stands out more as ‘A Trip’ to The Cellar rather than ‘A Trip’ into anything or anywhere else.

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