CUPPERS: Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness! (Keble)

Fri 11th November 2011

reviews

Daniel Rey

at 23:56 on 11th Nov 2011

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A highly ambitious and challenging choice, Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness promised a great deal, but lacked the energy that would have taken the audience further out of their comfort zone. Performing one feat out of the collection worked well, with an ugly sister Sanzonetta (Lizzie Culwick) being given hope of happiness, only to have it destroyed by her jealous sibling Campanetti (Bea Xu) and vain one-time lover Signor Avaricci (James Spencer).

All was narrated by Edward Gant (Simon Devenport), himself being told the story by the sympathetic Sanzonetta, whose hideous pimples are found to produce precious gems when excreted. Campanetti, seeing a chance to gain fame and fortune at her sister’s expense, does just that, setting up a profitable business in luxury goods. From this leverage she becomes engaged with the wealthy and ‘avaricious’ nobleman. When Avaricci visits Campanetti, finding her away from home he gets to know her outwardly hideous sister. Despite initially being perturbed by her appearance, Avaricci comes to believe, with dubious sincerity well depicted by Spencer, that it is the internal beauty that matters, and decides in turn to marry Sanzonetta. The re-appearance of Campanetti, also sporting grotesque but powerless pimples does not change his mind, but ultimately the lure of beautiful women makes cast Sanzonetta aside, leaving the dejected character to relate her woe to Gant.

The use of a chorus on each side of the stage was an interesting ploy, but produced mixed results. At times it was hard to tell whether they were meant to be communicating with each other or not. It might have been better to have them just observe proceedings, engrossed in the action. Their masked appearance in the final scene gave a suitably eerie ending. Overall, although the intent was clear, it struggled find the right balance between being a serious production and a farce, just as the chorus found it difficult to play joint roles of audience members and actors. Had it been more expressive, more over the top, then it could well have realised its undoubted potential. Nonetheless, it was good viewing; macabre and ultimately very thought-provoking.

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