around Warwick University campus, Saturday 25th June to Tuesday 26th June 2011
It’s difficult to sum up a festival in a single review after experiencing a body of work which spans multiple themes, tones and times. Warwick Student Arts Festival 2011 showcased the very best talent that Warwick has to offer, and after a collection of theatre shows which have this year been somewhat depressing, the (mostly) joyful tone of the productions on show this weekend was simply refreshing.
2011 was certainly the actor’s year at WSAF. The majority of theatre shows performed were written plays which focussed on language and narrative rather than concept and ideas. Saturday saw productions of Patrick Marber’s Closer directed by Kate Graves and Kieran Lucas, and Edward Davis’ take on The Caretaker. The former, an intricately structured comment on the futility of human relationships, offered a calmly bleak view on how fallible each and every one of us is, while Pinter’s masterpiece was handled with sensitivity and humour in equal measure.
Over the following days productions of Oleanna, Death and the Maiden, God of Carnage and The Importance of Being Earnest were performed, reminding us (and me particularly) that there’s sometimes nothing better than a good script well-performed.
The student written plays proved that Warwick is the breeding ground for some great British playwrights; although About Ghosts and If Only To Dream need a lot of work, Charlie Morton’s With Will, an imagined thirty minute discussion between Shakespeare and Middleton, and Thom May’s extraordinary CLM both showcased genuine talent. May’s script mixed the tragic with the comic perfectly, giving a portrayal of office politics like nothing I’ve ever seen on stage. Josh Roche’s The Nose finished off the festival with absurdity and wackiness.
Musical theatre also had a good showing at this year’s WSAF. Aside from the frankly ridiculous but hilariously ironic Anyone Can Whistle (Sondheim’s tragic show; the less said about that the better), we were also shown David Levesley & Laura Hunt’s FML: The Musical and the as-always-professional MTW Weekend Show. For such a speedily put together show, FML has a huge amount of potential, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were to go on to bigger and better things. Pastiching theatre of all forms and taking a tongue-in-cheek look at university life, Levesley’s script left not one audience member stern-faced. The MTW Weekend Show was equally good fun, lending some spectacle and pizazz to the festival with the best singers and dancers Warwick Drama has to offer.
Due to personal preferences and availability, it was difficult for me to watch anything that wasn’t of the theatrical ilk, but the choice of performances on offer was varied, meaning if you prefer dance or comedy there was always something going on. Special mention must go to Meg Price and Richard Potter, the co-ordinators of this huge event, and Lilith Brewer and Beccy Ward for taking charge of programming. I for one was reminded not to be so serious and remembered that it’s possible to simply sit back and enjoy yourself when at the theatre.