CUPPERS: Revival (New)

Sun 4th November 2012

reviews

Thea Bradbury

at 09:33 on 10th Nov 2012

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Perhaps it was just US-election-induced sleep deprivation, but I found New College's production of 'Revival' extremely hard to follow. It's a play about a heartbroken playwright forced to direct a play based on his own painful break-up. Or is it a play about a heartbroken playwright directing a play about an attempt to direct a play based on his own painful break-up? There are so many layers here that it's almost inevitable some meaning will get lost down the spaces in between, although those more alert than your reviewer may well find 'Revival' more transparent.

One thing is for certain: there's no lack of talent among the New College cast. By turns stylised and naturalistic, they move seamlessly between the interlocking levels of story, with Verity Bell particularly good as a permanently-harassed director. The script is also high quality, with the first scene reminiscent of Withnail & I and featuring the funniest conversation about a dead hamster you will see on stage this year (a narrow but accurate superlative).

Ultimately, I felt 'Revival' had all the elements of a good play, but fell down in its unnecessarily complicated storyline: events that felt like they were approaching resolution at the end somehow never quite made it there. Combined with the labyrinthine layers of plot involved, 'Revival' certainly isn't for the faint-hearted (or sleepy). However, while it's flawed, it also has real strengths, and some post-Cuppers development could potentially make a great play of it.

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