CUPPERS: Autobahn (Univ)

Tue 8th November 2011

reviews

Philip Bell

at 14:42 on 9th Nov 2011

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There’s minimalist, and then there’s ridiculous, and then there is the University College Oxford Cuppers performance of Autobahn. I’m probably exaggerating, but this quite obscure comic play by Neil LaBute, split into three scenes of two actors sitting in the middle of the stage recreating being in a car, was quite simplistic.

Some talk about a game of two halfs; this was very much a play of three thirds. Filip Ferdinand Falk Harteling, quite a name, and Kathryn Smith didn’t get the production off to a great start. When they could remember their lines they were talking about how Smith, none of the characters had names by the way, may have cheated on Filip. The actors seemed a little unsure of themselves and didn’t allow the audience any real interest in their characters. The dialogue was quite jolting, and this made its impact soften on the audience. Annoyingly Kathryn forgot to act just as the lights were going down; our painful sense that this is a play and these are actors is confirmed.

Sam Ereira raised the energy level of the play with a quite funny dialogue, well actually monologue because his wife, played by Holly Digre-Malcolm, isn’t speaking to him. This satirically long monologue needed stacks of energy and sincere acting, which is what Ereira provided. I’m not sure, however, if the punch-line, “Ok, I’m sorry for calling you a cunt…” was worth the wait in the end.

The third and final scene was the best. Lazlo Barclay and Kit Rees, also an assistant director of the play, provided a refreshing contrast to Sam Ereira in the previous scene, with their dead-pan acting. Perhaps this was taken a bit too far by Rees though. But this scene was quite funny, satirising a boyfriend - girlfriend break-up, even if the relationship looked quite unrealistic from their appearances. Barclay put on a good performance though and was the pick of the cast, perhaps followed by Rees and Ereira.

There is not much to say about the technical aspects of the performance. Lighting was bare-minimal (in terms of sophistication) and sound didn’t really feature. This isn’t inherently a problem, it just lends more a focus to the actual acting, which I suppose should be the main focal point. Still, the play really needed some kind of variety and the performance was very static. The lack of dimension to the play highlighted even more clearly the weakness of the actors. The acting really wasn’t good enough to put on a play so acting-heavy.

Although the play wasn’t massively impressive, there were some glimmers of fun which the good-humoured audience enjoyed. It won’t be one of the best of cuppers, but it was a fair attempt, and a mixed bag of acting is what the competition is all about.

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Comments

Edward Eban; 9th Nov 2011; 17:10:42

The play may not have been entertaining, but your review certainly is.

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