The Stage
Wednesday, July 11, 2011

Guildford School of Acting BA (Hons) Acting Three Year Course Showcase

by Susan Elkin

This unusual showcase featured 18 students - seven men and nine women - who, between them performed nine duologues. The advantage of this format is that it meant each extract was a decent enough length that it actually had time to bed down theatrically rather than the usual frantic assembly of much larger numbers of items. In effect the showcase comprised nine mini-shows.

On the other hand, it meant that each student was seen in only one role so, although there were some powerful performances, it was hard to tell in some cases whether or not the student was merely playing him or herself. It would have been good to see them using at least one different accent and persona for a contrasting role.

One of the most memorable points in the showcase was an extract from Anthony Neilson's Stitching in which Amanda Hootman and Rikki Lawton play a couple trying to rationalise their relationship because she is pregnant. The pacing of their row was well managed by both actors. Hootman, who is from Florida and looks like a young Zoe Wanamaker, controls the anger which is interspersed with attempts at calm. Lawton, a fine and intelligent actor to watch, uses his native 'estuary' voice to good effect as he circles Hootman in his anguish and yet when the extract ended there was a sense that these two probably would resolve their difficulties and make a future for themselves and their child.

Roxy Dunn and Alys Metcalf were very watchable in part of Daryl Watson's Blueberry Hill Accord. Dunn has a lovely clear voice which suited this RP role very well as she and the contrasting fair-haired Metcalf discuss the future of their rather intense friendship. In fact they have so much in common that they are obviously going to remain bonded and the moment when they collapsed in giggles was attractive, especially from Metcalf.

In a refreshingly original choice for a showcase, Lewis Rainer and Roxy Fitzgerald presented an extract from the film 500 Days of Summer. She was a highly effective sharp, cold blonde who gradually relaxes while Rainer managed his character's hurt and distress with sensitivity.

Aaron Mwale and Kandyce Walters were entertaining and compelling in a bit of Roy Williams's Clubland, although it would have been helpful to see both actors in other roles as well. Walters made a fine job of a coarse South Londoner whose partner has different ideas about sex. Mwale gave a gravelly, very convincing contrasting performance.

Demi Goodman was fun to watch in that all-too familiar, but still funny, UnXmas Story by Jeff Goode when a very 21st-century Mary and Joseph (Alexander McWilliam who does a good line in long-suffering) arrive at the inn and she won't put the baby in the manger in case a cow comes and nibbles it in the night. The humour was confident and there was real chemistry between the two actors.

Similar chemistry drove the extract from Crooked by Catherine Trieshman in which two schoolgirls - Asuka Miyako and Laetitia de Lafore - grapple, unknowingly, with the fine line between religious passion and sexual ecstasy. The clear-voiced and open-faced de Lafore gave us brittle spiritual yearning, nicely caught while Miyako very competently provided an earthier, sceptical foil.

Other noteworthy performances in this rather two-dimensional showcase included Daniel Handbridge as the randy liaison trying, and failing to have sex with Hannah Moore's always hungry (for lunch) date in Christian O'Reilly's Is this about Sex?. Molly Roberts did with conviction the feisty girl peeing in the cemetery, assisted by the pleasing Josh Bradshaw in that showcase perennial Love Steals Us from Loneliness by Gary Owen. And, in another showcase favourite, Katy Baxter - who has castable childlike stature - was good as the duped girl who believes her boyfriend (Ben Riddle) has bought her a horse and then shot it in Shel Silverstein's Best Daddy.

Expert choices:

(Jeremy Davies, Quantock Management): Roxy Fitzgerald, Rikki Lawton

(Ronnie Marshall, agent): Roxy Dunn, Rikki Lawton

Production information

Criterion Theatre, London, May 12

Michael Vivian
Katy Baxter, Josh Bradshaw, Laetitia de Lafore, Roxy Dunn, Roxy Fitzgerald, Demi Goodman, Daniel Hanbridge, Amanda Hootman, Rikki Lawton, Alexander McWilliam, Alys Metcalf, Asuka Miyako, Hannah Moore, Aaron Mwale, Lewis Rainer, Ben Riddle, Molly Roberts, Kandyce Walters
Running time:

Production information can change over the run of the show.