CUPPERS: Cigarettes and Chocolate (New College)

Fri 11th November 2011

reviews

Daniel Rey

at 23:58 on 11th Nov 2011

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Cigarettes and Chocolate, was an engaging production with some nice touches. It was based around the voluntary silence of Gemma (Rosie Polya) as a consequence of Rob’s adulterous relationship with her friend Lorna (Zoe Bullock). All attempts at reconciliation prove futile and it was a joy to watch the exasperation of Rob (Joseph Crow), as even burning a photograph with a cigarette lighter provokes no response from his estranged partner. Rather, Gemma remains deathly still but clearly not enjoying the role she feels she has to play but obdurately sticking to it. Well brought out by Polya, she perceives that Rob is more angry than contrite and soldiers on. Possibly due to the boundaries of the script, there was little character development or interest in Lorna or Rob’s friend Alastair (Henry-Claude Hudson), with almost all the attention directed at the troubled couple, but one was left to wonder what the precise role of these supporting characters was.

Crow delivered his biting remarks with Michael McIntyre style, juxtaposing well with the pensive Gemma, who captured the attention with her final speech, demonstrating good changes of pace and volume. Remaining in character whilst silent on stage is not the easiest of tasks, but not once did she look anything other than fully involved in the scene. Technically it was strong; choral music being a moving way to close the performance, evoking funeral rites as the lights gradually went down on the show and simultaneously Gemma’s hopes for happiness.

Another simple, but effective touch was the wilting rose left in a vase abandoned on the table for much of the play’s duration. It would have been good to have used more props, especially as the objects such as the photograph were mentioned in the script. Although the rules would not have allowed it to go up in flames, it would have been interesting for the direction to have got around this problem without resorting to imaginary props, which made the confrontation lose a lot of the impact that had been building. Nevertheless, there was no denying that it was an enjoyable and effective piece of theatre.

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