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ALRA South 3 Year Acting Showcase 2018 (Susan Elkin reviews)

Arts Theatre, 23 Jan 2018

This slickly directed (by Jane Jeffery) showcase featured ALRA South’s 23 graduating students – fifteen male and eight female. That rather unusual imbalance meant that the twenty three extracts (mostly duologues) found more for the men to do than the women.

I would have liked, for example, to have seen Victoria Priddice in a third role. She was a delight as Caitrin in that showcase old favourite the weeing-in-the-graveyard scene from Love Steals us From Loneliness and then very strong as Amanda in Jack Stacey’s Filthy. In the latter she and Conrad Williamson as Robbie were listening attentively to each other and making accomplished use of silence.

Another one to watch is Matthew Farmer who gave us three very different roles. He glistened slimily as a fly art dealer in Ten Storey Love Song by Luke Barnes, became an urbane, rather tricky doctor in Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange and a very plausible ex boyfriend in Marine Parade by Simon Stephens. He’s a fine actor.

So is Victor Oisin, who commands the stage whenever he’s on it. His turn as actorly-voiced Ira Aldridge, sacked for playing Othello too well in Lolita Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet, was so powerful and convincing that I wanted to see him to the rest of it.  In complete contrast was his gor-blimey Tom in Occupied by Carla Grauls, including his mincing about pretending to be a girl. Expect to see more of this one.

I also admired Stefan Race’s work. He has a very unusual – and no doubt castable – face topped with Simon Rattle style curly hair. He gave us a dictatorial theatre director in the opening Mephisto by Ariadne Mnouchkine followed by an anxious schoolboy in Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing .

It’s always a treat (and not that common) to see Shakespeare in a showcase and Eve Humphreys found exactly the right level of vulnerable disdain for Olivia in Twelfth Night – speaking the verse with measured, incisive confidence.

Twenty three extracts in under an hour meant that this showcase was a bit bitty and a tad indigestible but that’s a generic showcase problem. It isn’t a criticism of ALRA. And I liked the framing, short, dialogue-free films at the beginning and end which allowed us to see their faces close up –  in some dramatically interesting situations.

PICK OF THE BUNCH: VICTOR OSHIN

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Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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