CUPPERS: Fresher (Oriel)

Wed 9th – Sat 12th November 2011


Hannah Blyth

at 11:33 on 10th Nov 2011



From the offset, I had high hopes for ‘Fresher’ with the ticket consisting of a witty rejection letter from Oriel College and the flyer taking some of the Guardian’s more spirited diatribes against Oxford and producing them into a small ‘Fresher Edition’ pamphlet. This attention to detail was utilised throughout in a play that was ambitious in its take on life as a new student at Oxford.

With a journalist played by Laura Bird sporadically descending from the back of the theatre to blare out some of the typical criticisms of Oxford, the play covered everything from pretentious poets to rather opinionated Conservative Club members and team initiations. Whilst the play moved swiftly from one environment to another there was certainly a sense of unity which was aided by the character of Puck played by Barney IIey-Williamson, both commenting on and taking part in the action. With a large cast there were some great performances by many including Katie Ebner-Landy as a natural, animated student; Alex Bowsher as Jack, a victim of rowing initiations, vomming into an upturned lampshade and Christopher Frost as his victimiser, Guy. ‘Fresher’ both mocked the assertion of preconceptions and portrayed some of them to their full as the typically posh Guy stood, his foot on the chest of Jack asserting “this is not power play”. ‘Fresher’ was clearly appreciated by the audience due to its witty and quick nature, the writing really adding something to the Oxford stereotypes in a manner which managed to transcend cliché.

Technically, great use was made of lighting and audio in a manner that lifted the play to something that could go beyond the constrictions of cuppers.

‘Fresher’ was vivacious, incredibly well written and well executed.


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