CUPPERS: The Ugly One (Wadham)

Tue 8th November 2011


Philip Bell

at 15:25 on 9th Nov 2011



Cuppers is supposed to be a bit of fun, and to put on a play in a couple of weeks is likely to be quite hectic. Still, The Ugly One, by Marius von Mayenburg, is a play that relies on quality acting, and unfortunately this was lacking in the production.

The play follows Lette, played by Oliver Forest, who is pressured into having plastic surgery by an image-conscious employment world, and his wife Fanny, played by Violet Brand. Lette becomes beautiful and successful, and enjoys the superficial happiness he gets from it – cheating on his wife with another character played by Violet Brand, and making money. But alas, his success is short-lived, and when Karlman, played by Nathan Somers, jumps on the plastic surgery band-wagon with others, Lette is defunct and lost without his identity.

The play is fast and this helps to make it more entertaining. Maeve Scullion, the director, has recognised that to bring out the sense of confusion that is intended by Von Mayenburg with his doubling-up of characters a quick scene-changeover and dialogue is essential. However, perhaps some of the dialogue was too rushed, and the speed of the play served to desensitise the audience to the characterisations, rather than to interest them. Some of the double-characters, particularly Violet Brand, although she was good as the original Fanny, changed very subtly in characterisation between their two characters. This was confusing, but not in a good way.

Oliver Forrest, playing Lette, although starting off a little shakily, grew throughout, and by the end commanded the stage. Violet Brand, playing the wife Fanny, on the other hand, started naturally but didn’t provide any dimension to her character and didn’t encourage any feelings from the audience. Angie Normandale, who played the plastic surgeon, Scheffler, was fun at times and had a nice quality of voice but generally was let down by her delivery. Nathan Somers, playing Karlmann, also delivered his lines clumsily, if he could remember them, and seemed slightly ill-at-ease on stage. Ultimately, although there were some moments of good acting, the performers didn’t invite the audience to take an interest in the plot, and this was a shame.

In saying this, the lighting was sound, particularly the surgery scenes were done well. The director actually did well with these scenes, having Lette upside-down to the audience was indeed entertaining, and Angie Normandale, Scheffler, was at her most commanding when sitting above Lette and massaging his face. Unfortunately the nose-breaking sound that signified plastic surgery was often out-of sync with the actions of the actors however.

The Ugly One, even if a little disappointing, was in all was a sound performance. The actors worked quite well as a group, especially Lette and Fanny working off each other. In reality it is unlikely to win cuppers, however, because of the acting. The audience didn’t really care about the characters. Indeed, the directing had a part to play in this as well. The is a satire on our image-conscious, shallow and materialistic society, but the audience won’t be concerned about that unless they are interested in the characters themselves. Still, a substantial crowd was entertained by a performance of The Ugly One so in this context it was a success.



anna normandale; 10th Nov 2011; 03:26:10

This play was very funny, believable and thought provoking

James Fennemore; 16th Nov 2011; 18:48:15

I'm so glad you have such a high opinion of your own production, Anna.

Audience Avg.

3 votes, 2 comments

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