Tidal Waif Productions
Where do I begin?
Here in The Student’s Culture section, we strive to celebrate university-based content; to give performances by students the limelight they so richly deserve. Frankly, I can’t think of a better illustration of this talent than Tidal Waif Production’s production of Closer: it perfectly exemplified what makes being Theatre Editor so rewarding.
It’s true that this is one of my favourite plays and in many ways that meant I expected a lot of it. But let me tell you, it was marvellous. Really. A performance can only ever be a sum of its parts; when a cast is made up of four actors there is nowhere to hide. Together Eliza Lawrence as Alice, Rufus McGrath as Dan, Esme Allman as Anna and Michael Hajiantonis as Larry executed their characters exquisitely; their character development so considered that it could only have come as a by-product of intensive rehearsal.
Closer, by Patrick Marber, is special for it’s juxtaposition of life’s complicated simplicity. Perhaps what made this rendition so successful was director Katya Pereira’s total understanding of this. The sculptural set, designed by Ellie Beale, and Pereira’s composition of each scene was entirely unpretentious and stripped back, matching the raw nature of the text and allowing the focus to be entirely placed on the interactions and dialogue.
It’s near enough impossible to choose a stand out performance, or harder still, a stand out scene. Each character is entirely different from the next, made masterfully complex by Marber. In fact, as the show progress my opinions consistently shifted and changed as to who was most skilled. The fact is I think they were all equally brilliant – that is in part what made is so beautiful. Each actor was the true embodiment of their character both in appearance and execution.
That said if a choice had to be made… It’s not until this play comes to fruition that we, the audience, realise that the play we believed was in equal parts about the four characters is in many ways, about Alice: the lost soul. Eliza Lawrence had the ingenious balance of vulnerability and gumption. Her sense of timing, her understanding of space and silence, of volume and movement – perhaps these were the most important of the show. Lawrence, like the rest of cast, was so in touch with her character that it was near impossible to see where Alice ended and Eliza began.
In truth, this was the best student show I’d seen. Please, take it to the Fringe. It was infinitely better than most of the shows I saw there last year. If you don’t believe me, you should’ve seen the size of the audience each night, the raucous laughter at the Hajiantonis’ comedic timing, and the deafening applause at the play’s end. Five stars are not enough – one hundred might have been nearer the mark. I can’t wait to see what’s next.