|Guy Edmonds in "The Witches"|
Presented by the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA)
Gorman House 4 – 6th April
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
A program of three works under the banner "An Idea Takes Flight" showcasing the accomplishments of three of the six graduates of the 2012 NIDA directing course, together with an exhibition of designs and costumes selected from their larger annual exhibition "Exponida", is currently being staged at Gorman House by NIDA in an impressive demonstration of the standard of work currently being achieved by this training organisation.
Part of the enjoyment of this presentation is the clever way in which the ambience of Gorman House itself has been exploited as an integral element of the experience, as the audience moves between the two venues in which the productions are staged. Decorated with strings of white lights encouraging visitors to the beautifully mounted exhibition, the courtyard provides a charming space for conversation between acts.
The first play, “Play House”, by British playwright, Martin Crimp, and directed by Luke Rogers, is presented in the CYT theatre. In a series of apparently unconnected episodes a young couple go about setting up house. The audience are seated on both sides of the sparse but effective setting, designed by Georgia Hopkins, which runs the full length of the theatre, consisting mainly of a sofa and refrigerator separated by a bed. The dialogue is astringent, economical and absorbing and NIDA graduates Sam O’Sullivan and Kate Skinner give fascinatingly nuanced performances. Of particular interest is the polished use of costume, props and pauses by the director and actors to create mood and tension, and the use of sound to maintain this tension between scenes.
The audience moved across to the QL2 theatre for the second presentation, a 40-minute version of the American musical by Joe Dipietro and Jimmy Roberts, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” given a very slick and polished performance by the cast of four, Nat Jobe, Simon Brook McLachlan, Cinzia Lee and Canberran, Amy Louise Dunham, directed by another former Canberran and CAT Award winner, Derek Walker, and accompanied by and excellent three piece ensemble. Again the clever use of a mobile set and projections, designed by Chris Pitcairn, were a compelling demonstration of how much can be achieved with limited resources.
Then it was back to the CYT Theatre for the final offering of the night, a dazzling performance of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches”. Directed by Lucas Jervies, and given a frenetic, virtuoso performance by Guy Edmonds, utilising little more than some kitchen utensils, a ball of string and a few mechanical mice, to transport the willing audience into the wonderfully funny world of wicked witches.
“The Witches” provided the perfect finale for a stimulating and entertaining evening of excellent theatre making, which in turn provided a superb demonstration of the quality and professionalism of the country’s premier theatre training organisation. One would hope that this Centenary Year visit, will be the first of many more such visits to the National Capital by NIDA.