CUPPERS: God (Magdalen)

Wed 9th November 2011

reviews

Claire Cocks

at 21:25 on 9th Nov 2011

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"It's terrible being fiction, we're so limited". Magadalen's eight-person cast ambitiously took on the meta from the opening scene of their Cupper's production 'God' in which The Writer (Lauren Magee) and The Actor (Andrew Wynn Owen) discuss the literary difficulties faced by the frustrated writer in such of an ending. So far, so Pirandellian. With characters that refuse their allotted roles and question not only their own reality but also that of the audience the play continues. And is all that is needed simply a beginning, middle and an ending? Or does the play search for something more?

Cleverly adapted from the Woody Allen, one-act comedy, ‘God (a play)’ first published in 1975, settings and references were wittily transferred to contemporary Oxford, for example the sexual and flirtatious Doris Levine (Claudia King) purportedly studying for a degree in philosophy at Cambridge- but really studying for a degree in rowing, provoked titters amongst the audience.

A combination of sensitive direction and careful thinking behind the adaptation of the script, allowed the play to become very much the cast’s own.

James Tozer, though only making a brief appearance in the role of Lorenzo Miller (“I created this audience. I'm a writer.”), offered a strong characterisation of the figure of the eccentric overall writer of the play...within a play...within a play. The cast showed a definite sense of enjoyment in performing together as a group, and the generously glittered Zeus perhaps deserves a special mention! However, it was thought that at times this allowed the play to descend into the chaotic as characters moved excessively across the stage, movements which could have benefitted from more blocking and direction. More use could also have been made of the sound and lighting facilities provided at the Burton Taylor to add a depth of variety to the different scenes.

With an ultimate appeal to the Absurd and a black-out at The Writer's request, so the play ends- or does it? Returning full circle to the opening scene of the play and the search for the resolution to 'the problem of the ending', an ultimate ending is evaded as in the illustration of the circle on The Writer's notebook in the opening scenes of the play.

Overall there was a good sense of fun running throughout the production, exhibiting a clear ability to capture 'the spirit of cuppers', and indeed the cast and production team’s enjoyment of the production was tangible. Nevertheless, perhaps the theatre-goer is by now tired of the predictability of the play-within-a- play script and was in many respects relieved when the play did at last draw to its inconclusive ending.

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