Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

After Juliet, Pilrig Studio, 10 August 2010

And they're off! The 2010 Edinburgh Festival season is officially under way, and my first port of call was the Pilrig Studio, to see the pupils of John B Connally High School (Austin, TX) performing After Juliet by Sharman Macdonald. This is a sequel to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and imagines how things panned out for the Montagues and Capulets, still hating each others' guts but constrained to stop fighting. The main characters are Benvolio (Raymond White), a Montague, who loves Rosaline (Keaton Patterson), a Capulet still carrying a torch for Romeo (with whom she was in love before he met Juliet). Sharman Macdonald is a Scottish playwright who was given the idea for the play by her now-rather-famous daughter Keira Knightley, who went on to play Rosaline at the Young Vic when she was 14. I didn't know the play, and enjoyed it not only for the way the characters develop but for the unresolved ending, where the heads of the families seem to be reconciled with each other but the rank and file are still beating each other up.

It's always fun reading the programme notes for these tings, as we find Raymond White is a nationally competitive gymnast (on a gymnastics scholarship to the University of Oklahoma). I kept wondering if we'd see any onstage gymnastics, and was rewarded with a splendid backflip from one level down to another near the end.

Valentine (James Balandran) muffed a line near the start and simply repeated the line correctly without a single flicker of emotion (and I mean ABSOLUTELY nothing). I was very impressed. This was the production's first performance in this year's Fringe, so some glitches were pretty inevitable. I didn't spot any others though.

The use of music in the production was good, including Muse's Supermassive Black Hole. Apparently the play is supposed to have an onstage drummer providing musical commentary on the action: a custom, I imagine, more honoured in the breach than the observance. (Yes, yes, I know, Hamlet not R&J.)

Keaton Patterson as Rosaline was the star performer. Rosaline is undeniably feisty but also emotionally vulnerable, and you can see why Benvolio would fall for her, at least in this portrayal. She (or rather her director Patty MacMullen) did however miss an opportunity for humour that presents an open goal. In her first scene with Benvolio Rosaline lights a cigarette which he snatches and throws away. Rosaline is furious: "It doesn't grow on trees - for me it doesn't". If only she had allowed a beat after "trees" for the audience to realise that actually it does grow on trees (OK, bushes) before clarifying her remark, the joke would have found its mark.

Overall a very good performance though, and I say that as one who is pretty cynical about serious drama on the Fringe (apart from the stuff at the Traverse). A credit to Austin, and to Texas.

5 Comments:

At 17 August, 2010 17:01, Anonymous James said...

Thanks for the positive review! We are glad you enjoyed our show :)

 
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