After returning back from Easter, most of us are finding it hard enough to be motivated for Monday mornings, let alone the looming project deadlines and exam revision (forget I said the exam word), or finalists who are writing dissertations and slowly but surely losing minds. All of us are in need of something to keep us going for the rest of the term, or is that just me? 

Well, it’s a bloomin’ good job then that LSU Stage Society has been at it again. They’ve handwritten and handcrafted three original and unique short plays for their spring production, Three Doors Down on Friday 19th and Saturday April 20th at Fearon Hall.

Bedtime Stories

The first play was Bedtime Stories, written and directed by Livi Shepherd. The experience of babysitting gone badly is the familiar, comical nightmare played out for us here. What made it work was how it was written amongst the tensions of two relationships: A failing middle-class marriage and an awkward teenage romance. Its comedy value was largely in the stereotypical lovesick boyfriend Marcus (Joseph Thomas), who executed his role to its comic expectation, with perfectly awkward ‘surprises’ including falling through windows, dodgy poetry and stripping off. Marcus and Emily (Francesca Rise) certainly earned their laughs from the audience, especially when they both revealed some great adlibbing skills when the set made an unexpected fall into the storyline.

However, there was also a subtle, unexpected comedic value in its critique of the tragic, and somewhat equally farcical, middle-class marriage and lifestyle. Obviously, the over-dramatic role of Marcus naturally got centre of attention amidst the farce his character created, but the posh parents, humorously performed by Emily Pullan and Sam Lean deserve a share of the credit for playing their roles with almost a satirical comment on the middle class.

The Carters

The Carters, written by Sam Lane and directed by Daniel Holland, also proved itself far beyond light-hearted or foolhardy comedy and actually makes a relevant story in the age of Cameron’s Broken Britain; addressing everything from broken families, alcoholism, scroungers and scammers, and even makes note to the NHS cuts. 

We are introduced to the vegetated Mr Carter, and a nurse (Livi Shepherd) that amusingly and compassionately befriends the unconscious man, unmindful that others only remember his bad manners disrespectful behaviour. This opening scene sets up the rest of the play. A family torn apart by their alcoholic father are brought together by his impending death. The four siblings, strangely, could not be more unrelated if they tried and yet between them they are able to express differences and their shared commonality, creating a humorous and heartfelt family situation. All of the characters (including the hospital staff) each expose an individually interesting story and are therefore intensely watchable.

Excellent, convincing performances from Bea (Alice de Warrenne Waller) and Brian (Joseph Thomas) represent the two ends of the scale, the pretentious class-climber and lower working class ‘chav’ and somewhere between the ‘therapeutic’ role-playing, teacup slurping and throwing lemonade in everyone’s face, each of the characters are humbled, providing a sobering story about family and class, nicely comical and convincing after all.

The Jew The Genius and The Maniac's Ham

Last but most certainly not least was the weird and wonderful play, The Jew, The Genius and The Maniac’s Ham, written and directed by Emma Baggot. If you’ve ever wanted to know how to become the criminal mastermind in an old gangster film, or if you’re now suitably intrigued; this is a seriously silly play for you.

A group of school children are determined to be real gangsters, starting out from the playground and plotting their next plans for heist fame. Unfortunately, they end up stealing a prized ham and find themselves in more trouble than their ‘Year Nine’ maturity can deal with. Tommy the Terror (Josh Reynolds) – leader of the Company – received laughs from his very first moments on stage, even with just a look. Reynolds is clearly comfortable in comedic roles but does still earn his keep, engaging the audience for the first opening monologue, parodying those of the old, smoky gangster films. Emma Baggot’s spoof is undeniably funny and the use of the film noir spotlight, a ninja slow-motion scene and the crazy character of Mr Cheese (Janak Jani), who looks like something from an American detective sitcom from the 70s, makes it a fresh, creative comedy play. In the final climatic scene as the children think they’re dead meat, the ending served up by ditzy and loveable Mum (Obie Jasper) and her mini-quiche is the unexpected ‘deus ex machina’ moment very few of us were expecting. 

All three plays had the audience laughing at its comedy moments, but each play was also more than just comical, each encompassing satire and parody in distinctive, creative and unexpected ways. What is certain is that LSU Stage Society provided another dose of sanity and good fun for all who came to see Three Doors Down.


Comments are closed.