An extraordinary show
Senior School production
This year’s senior drama production, an adaptation of the Cornish love story Tristan and Yseult, was a superb example of this school’s creativity and team work. It’s a story of love, hate, honour, loyalty, betrayal and death.
The word “extraordinary” is often misused, to describe things that aren’t out of the ordinary. This production was, however. It threw some of the more traditional theatrical conventions up in the air, mixed them around a bit and they landed rather wonderfully on stage.
The plot sees the killing of an Irish soldier named Morholt by a Breton wanderer named Tristan, which deeply troubles King Mark of Cornwall. The soldier’s dying word is the name of his beloved adoptive sister, the Hungarian castaway, Yseult: the king vows to marry Yseult in recompense for what has happened on his land. He sends his trusted liege Tristan to bring Yseult to him, but the drinking of a love potion makes Tristan and Yseult fall in love, which rather complicates things with King Mark. What follows is a string of high jinks and hapless heartache…
The action is supported and interpreted by 18 lovespotters, whose role it is to identify and encourage the pursuit of love whenever and however they can. They looked a little like escapees from a Where’s Wally convention, and reminded me a bit of Minions, but they were much more talented than that, acting like a Greek chorus to combine dance, song, mime, melodrama and comedic moments as they moulded the narrative together. They gave us epic dancing sequences in both halves of the play, as well as a slapstick competition with the love barometer and a hearty sea shanty as their ship brought Yseult to the king. Their individual focus and corporate impact were tremendous.
As the eponymous Tristan, Cosmo Coish gave three performances of poise and stylish control, flirting with happiness for all too short a time. Charlie Killen was superb as King Mark, showing us his stage presence, comic ability and musical dexterity as he sang, played guitar and piano and ran the gauntlet of emotions with which different kinds of love and loss tested him.
One of the triumphs of Mr Brough’s casting was the selection of three different sets of principals, one for each night of the production. This gave brilliant performing opportunities to a range of talented actors and allowed their own interpretations of the characters to vary subtly on each occasion. We enjoyed the menacing power and range of Lara Inglis-Jones, Sorrel Mitchell and Ettejean Girvin as Whitehands, Tristan’s scheming wife.
There was a further brooding threat posed by Alex Peacock, Archie Tamblyn and Caspar Raworth as Morholt.
Each of the three Yseults, Francesca Vercoe, Tabi Evans and Maddy King had to deliver some of their lines in Hungarian, combining grace and elegance as they battled with their consciences.
The mischief and bloodlust of the king’s servant Frocin were commandingly portrayed by Ariana Beka, Phoebe Day and Rebekah Wajed.
And the complexity of a servant’s life, as well as personal trauma of loyalty beyond what is reasonable to one’s mistress, were played memorably by Beth Pittman, Bethan Reynolds and Bella Allan.
There was a strong musical backdrop to the drama: Beth Pittman, Sorrel Mitchell, Ette Girvin and Bella Allan set the mood with jazz numbers; and we had a high quality house band in Ed Frankpitt, Patrick Kelly, Mark Malone, Dan Wilcock and Tom Wright, whose dress sense and dance moves were also much appreciated by the audience.
A large crew made everything tick: Mr Stewart’s maintenance team built the set and nobly spent yesterday dismantling the auditorium; Production Manager, Mr Harknett, oversaw the technical side, with Mr Fryer and Mr Saunders and an expert pupil team; Mrs Rafferty-White and her team provided costumes; Mrs Hancock, Mrs Johnson, Mrs Whittall and Miss Lunn co-ordinated the make-up; Rosie Cromwell produced props for everyone; Mr Keyes recruited numerous staff volunteers to support the play, from backstage to the Front of House; and Mr Fryer, Oliver Irons and Tom Kingsmill took the photos.
Congratulations to everyone involved, and in particular our exceptional director, Mr Brough.