The Tamaritans, The Drum Theatre, 19th – 23rd June

The Tamaritans brought us their classic recipe of comedy, charisma and characterisation. ‘Rumours’ is described as a side-splitting comedy and there was certainly audible raucous laughter for many of the scenes in this play. The farcical style of comedy is juxtaposed against the dark state of the situation.

This play is set at a dinner party. The guests arrive to find one of the hosts missing and the other with a bullet wound. The stage is set as a front room and hallway of a modern home with plenty of doors leading to the rest of the house. Neil Simon’s writing style requires the audience to use their imagination with the help of the actors as they disappear through the doors into other rooms and return to explain what is happening offstage. One thing after another goes wrong and the evening spirals out of control.

The Tamaritans are well-rehearsed in bringing us fantastically funny plays with slick delivery and excellent timing and this was no exception. Clive Lovatt as Len Cummings tells the other characters a story towards the end of the play. His delivery was faultless and he had the audience waiting for each sentence with anticipation. The crowd burst into well-deserved applause after he completed his tale.

Many of the characters have to shout during their dialogue. Every member achieved the perfect balance between raising their voice and keeping their diction clear. We felt their exasperation and fear and laughed as the curse words started creeping in.

The Tamaritans are true artists when it comes to performing comedy and The Drum Theatre is the perfect venue for performing a play. If you are looking for a relaxed night at the theatre then escape with ‘Rumours’.

Rumours - The Tamaritans

On the evening of his tenth wedding anniversary party, Charley Brooks, a senior Government official, is discovered by his first two guests lying in his bedroom with a shotgun wound; his wife and staff are nowhere to be seen. 

As more couples arrive for the party, the guests try to work out what has happened and how to avoid this incident becoming a scandal that would damage the government but, in the absence of any information other than the odd rumour, their theories and suggestions for a cover-up become increasingly bizarre.

The Trial

The Actor’s Wheel, 16-18 May Marjon Arts Centre – Plymouth, 31 May 7:30pm Cygnet Theatre – Exeter, 1 June 7:30pm Jacksons Lane – Highgate – London, 7 June 7:30pm Z-Arts – Manchester, 8 June Rondo Theatre – Bath, 9 June Barbican Theatre – Plymouth

‘The Trial’ tells the story of a person stuck within an alternate legal system that functions on hierarchy and impenetrable processes. This was a fascinating premise for a theatre production and it certainly held my attention. The audience seemed entranced by the story as we tried to reason with the decisions made throughout.

The stage was set with a white grid on the floor and controlled where the actors moved, particularly in scenes where they were performing as a full ensemble. This created an intriguing dynamic as each developed their own style of movement. To add to the dynamism filing cabinets on wheels were added. These cabinets transformed into many different props, from a set of stairs to a tenement building.

If you enjoy a night of deep thinking and examination then this is a play not to be missed. You leave feeling emotionally drained and can’t help thinking about the story and the characters for some time after.

In The Actor’s Wheel adaptation of The Trial the characters were played by multiple actors. This gave the chance to see different interpretations of Josephine K. Played by Georgia Mumford, Taylor Green, Chloe Ellen and Kezia Trigg, we saw the talents of these degree level actors. They gave emotive performances that revealed human weaknesses and strength.

As I have mentioned before, this company consists of acting degree students from Marjon University. The Trial has been produced by the current third year students so if you have watched these actors for three years, as I have, it is clear to see they have grown into more than performers. Their talent for production, music and dance is exciting to watch.

The Trial is essential watching for anyone wishing to study drama and those who love thought-provoking theatre.

Julius Caesar

The Actor’s Wheel, 9-11 May 7:30pm Marjon Arts Centre – Plymouth, 23 May 7:30pm Cygnet Theatre – Exeter, 24 May 7:30pm Sterts Theatre – (near Liskeard), 26 May 7:30pm Barbican Theatre – Plymouth

I have come to expect an evening of unusual and emotional theatre from The Actor’s Wheel and this company did not disappoint. Every year they produce an adaptation of a Shakespeare play so if you are a fan of the great bard, this is a company worth following. This year we were treated to political thriller, ‘Julius Caesar’.

As many of us were taught in the history classroom, this tale is not a happy one. The emotions on stage were raw and the battles bloody. The choreography for main battle scene was mesmerising. We watched as soldiers fought with knives, guns and bare fists in slow motion. The strength and accuracy it took to execute this scene proved the dedication and skill of these performers.

The pause before the applause was testament to the thought provoking nature of the performance. Calpurnia (Sama Rantisi) poured her heart and soul into her performance and it seemed to all as if we really were witnessing her mourning the death of her soulmate.

Lucius emerged as an essential character in the second act. Emma Stephens playing Lucius gave a sincere performance and proved her commitment to her master, Brutus. She tries to calm Brutus with a song which she performed beautifully. It perfectly suited the atmosphere of the scene.

The traditional ending of a small rhyme could have been a more pronounced moment, especially since the words as so fitting to the occasion ‘…So call the field to rest; and let's away, To part the glories of this happy day.’

Every actor played their part excellently from Mark Antony to Cassius to Brutus. All experience their own rollercoaster of emotions amidst a turbulent time in Roman history. Everyone knows what the history books say about Julius Caesar but nothing compares to seeing this story presented live by The Actor’s Wheel.