Haverfordwest

Fri 5th – Sat 27th August 2011

reviews

Joe Nicholson

at 11:06 on 10th Aug 2011

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The set of Haverfordwest was minimal and efficient: the smaller ground floor studio of the Spaces at Surgeon’s Hall was set up with two chairs, a mattress and a bedside table, as well as a thought-provoking cage backdrop. This staging worked well throughout the whole production, which was fluid and engaging: the five-person cast did well to make subtle changes in order to create varied scenes, whilst a cast of five filled the stage-space well, focusing around Jas, the erratic and energetic lead.

Haverfordwest’s music was a success: opening the performance with loud club music set the scene well, and imbued the whole show with energy. The production team kept the sound minimal throughout the play, but chose the moments well to employ special effects: an episode where Tamsin Newland’s Jas listened to a voice message from Matt McKeever’s Rhys was tastefully done to sound and lighting director Emily Russell’s credit. The energy introduced by the opening was continued throughout the dialogue: Georgia Coles-Riley constructed fairly realistic exchanges between the teenage characters.

Much of the dialogue formed astute observations of the inane quality of adolescent speech, some lines really hitting home with their naturalism. Occasionally, however, I felt that the play was in danger of exaggerating the portrayal of the ‘angsty’ teenage condition, some of the anecdotes seeming slightly over-wrought and embarrassing. Again, Coles-Riley’s evocation of the adolescent’s drunken thoughts and urges was played out well by the cast, but the question was inevitably whether this was an interesting subject-matter for a student play. Nevertheless, the cast was for the most part very professional, despite several minor line slips. Tamsin Newland filled the role of Jas very well, and Charlotte Lewis’s Esther was smoothly acted and believable. Amir El-Masry’s more exaggerated performance of Finn, another Haverfordwest teenager, introduced an element of irony and dark humour to the performance which came across nicely. The conclusion of the play seems potentially a little rushed, but overall this is an interesting and realistic exploration of the experience of an seventeen year old girl facing change and the pressures of adolescence.

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