Saturday, May 25Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Theatre & Performance

Bag Salad and Box Office
Culture & Literature, Literature, Theatre & Performance

Bag Salad and Box Office

By Daniel Pepin Do you like contemporary fiction? The kind of fiction that makes you squirm? Boundary pushing, unsettling, compulsive, a little bit sexy? Then chances are you have read or at least heard of Boy Parts by Eliza Clark – if you have not then please do so, for the above reasons. Clark’s debut novel was an instant cult classic, epitomising the manic and obsessive world of the internet era – criticising and dissecting modern gender conflict, classism, and performative art. The razor blade sharp book follows Irina, a Northern fetish photographer as she humiliates and captures explicit photos of young men and boys while surviving off a heady mix of coke, ket, Tesco bag salad, and La Mer. The playbook opens with ‘this is the story as Irina tells it. She is an artist, a monster, a...
What’s So Bad About Bootlegs?
Culture & Literature, Theatre & Performance

What’s So Bad About Bootlegs?

When it comes to bootleg musicals, conflicting opinions abound. Sure, they’re technically illegal, but isn’t it a victimless crime? Or are they doing damage to the art that writers, actors, and many more have put painstaking effort into creating? Do they wrongly cheapen what should be a top-drawer experience, or do they better the theatre industry by making it more accessible to the masses? Bootlegs are illegal recordings of musicals or shows made by people in the audience and distributed, often via YouTube, for people online to see. Nowadays, they’re usually taken on smartphones and the quality tends to be awful. Yet these recordings often fetch tens, even hundreds of thousands of views, despite normally being taken down after only a few weeks due to copyright laws. As a form of pirac...
Trouble in Tahiti: The Gender Troubles of the ‘50s Still Following Us Today
Culture & Literature, Theatre & Performance

Trouble in Tahiti: The Gender Troubles of the ‘50s Still Following Us Today

Trouble in Tahiti is a 1952 opera musical composed by Leonard Bernstein. Royal Holloway’s production of this renowned opera showed variety and skill in both acting and vocal performances. In a critique of 1950s patriarchal marriage norms, Jennifer Morafkova and James Gooding interpreted the two protagonists, Dinah and Sam. Accompanist Georgie Andrews, joined by Anna Caron, Zachary Smith, Phoebe Wakefield, Robert Murray, and Sebastian Stone as the chorus enhanced these marital gender inequalities through satire and dark humour. Director Kitty Cassey and Assistant Director Jennifer Hawthorn succeeded in taking their audience back in time to the post World War 2 period for the short seven scenes.  The chorus introduces what is supposedly the perfect marriage through Bernstein’s Prelu...
The Man Who Reinvented the Musical: A Note on Stephen Sondheim
Culture & Literature, Literature, Theatre & Performance

The Man Who Reinvented the Musical: A Note on Stephen Sondheim

Perhaps the most renowned musical theatre composer and lyricist of the 20th century passed away on the 26th November, aged ninety-one. Stephen Sondheim began his career writing the lyrics to West Side Story (1975) – recently adapted by Spielberg into a dazzling Hollywood movie starring Rachel Zelger and Ansel Elgort – and went on to write the music and lyrics for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979) and Into the Woods (1987) as well as Broadway classics such as Company (1970), Follies (1971), and Merrily We Roll Along (1981). The musical theatre mogul received significant acclaim for his work, winning eight Tonys, eight Grammys, an Oscar, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom to name but a few awards. Not one, but two theatres were named after him – one on Broadway, one in ...
Are cinemas going extinct?  A Post-Covid Review
Film & TV, Theatre & Performance

Are cinemas going extinct? A Post-Covid Review

Stale popcorn and half-working escalators, overpriced, too-watery coke and the blue raspberry (what even is that?) slushy that comes with a funny shaped, reusable plastic cup that will sit on your windowsill for months, never to be used again -- there’s nothing quite like the cinema. The first public performance of a film was in 1896, but with the pandemic forcing us to stay at home and the growing popularity of binge-watching culture, the cinema don’t have the same grasp on society as it once did. Growing up, I just about lived in the theatre, taking every chance I could to watch the latest movies; it was my safe space and I enjoyed the shared experience of watching with other people. The final battle scene, where every person in the theatre gasped in shock during Twilight Breaking Da...
Online Theatre – Shows to watch during lockdown
Culture & Literature, Theatre & Performance

Online Theatre – Shows to watch during lockdown

The performance industry has been hit hard in the past year, and actors, writers, and directors have had to get creative quickly to make sure that theatre still got to its audiences. Shakespeare’s Globe did premiers and lessons on their Youtube channel, along with the National Theatre and many other theatre companies that were seeing the country unable to experience their work live. Here are five amazing plays that are available to watch online now.  Mosquitos by Lucy Kirkwood (National Theatre, Olivia Colman)  A ‘fascinating and provocative’ piece available to watch online is Lucy Kirkwood’s 2017 play Mosquitos. This is a fantastic new dramatic work that centres on the life of Alice, a scientist, with her sister Jenny and her son Luke. It sees personal and professional life dr...
Chicago Razzle Dazzled!
Culture & Literature, Theatre & Performance

Chicago Razzle Dazzled!

Standing out in stark contrast with the convivial tone of previous productions Super Kart and Legally Blonde, MTS opted to tread a darker path in their final show of the academic year by bringing us the delights of Chicago. Based on the 1926 Maurine Dallas Watkins play of the same name, Chicago follows the trials of two women who murdered their lovers and satirises the corruption of America's criminal justice system and the notion of the 'celebrity criminal'. It boasts music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse - the former of whom composed the Broadway hit Cabaret. Director Sorrel Wilson endeavours to present a production that is self-aware as a theatrical performance and her concept is clear throughout. The traverse stage, adorned with red drapes and li...
Love’s Labour’s Lost: A Review
Culture & Literature, Theatre & Performance

Love’s Labour’s Lost: A Review

The Shakespeare Society’s current production of Love's Labour's Lost puts on a sassy and charismatic spectacle of the timeless comedy.  Love's Labour's Lost follows the young King Ferdinand of Navarre and his three lively companions, opening with their well-intentioned decision to abstain from the company of women for three years while they focus on their academic studies. This ultimately fails, as each of the male courtiers falls in love with the Princess of France and her own companions. Classic Shakespearian farce and trickery ensue as this colourful production directed by Jack Hardman brings to life the games of love and power between the sexes.  Undoubtedly, the strongest part of the production was the dynamic between cast members. The performers worked seamlessly together, whe...
Here We Go! Super Kart: A Review
Culture & Literature, Theatre & Performance

Here We Go! Super Kart: A Review

It's that time of year again when MTS put on their 'Variations' production, a unique show written, crewed, and performed entirely by MTS first-timers. This year, the task fell to Finley Hodges, Jamie O'Connor, and Gabriella Mulé, and they brought us Super Kart: The Musical. Based on the world-famous Mario Kart series, it features everyone's favourite characters and boasts a script packed to the brim with Super Mario references. Finley Hodges's clever writing ensured that even those without an in-depth knowledge of the Nintendo world could appreciate the numerous allusions to the franchise. I came out of the show wondering whether I had actually ever hit someone with a green shell, and why poor Blue Toad bore the brunt of so much mockery - I always played as her! Jamie O'Connor was the ...
In Short: Edges was a hit
Culture & Literature, Theatre & Performance

In Short: Edges was a hit

Following the success of Songs for a New World last December, MTS opted to continue their production of an autumn term 'mini show' with Pasek and Paul's Edges, a song cycle exploring the themes of love, coming of age, and self-discovery. Most well-known for writing the lyrics for La La Land and the music and lyrics in Dear Evan Hansen, Edges served as Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's first venture into musical theatre. It was written while they studied at the University of Michigan in 2005, and made Pasek and Paul the youngest ever winners of the Jonathan Larson Award. Aside from listening to Carrie Hope Fletcher's covers of I Gotta Run and Perfect (the latter of which was sadly omitted from this performance), I must admit, I was unfamiliar with the majority of the songs in Edges. But, if ...