Friday, March 07, 2008

"Animal Farm" - March 2008

Before the show there was a fair amount of speculation about how Glasgow College of Nautical Studies drama students would portray their characters in Ian Woolridges's adaptation of George Orwell's "Animal Farm". Were we in for the full 'pantomime horse' treatment or perhaps they would modify the characters/setting? As it turned out what we got were 'half-face' masks, which while very effective did pose some problems of muffled dialogue - particularly for Waldorf.

The cast all performed well in their roles, often playing multiple characters, with my particular favourites being John Irvine's 'Squealer' , Louise Redden's 'Clover' and Alison Crowe's 'Benjamin'. Pamela Shaw was believably charismatic as 'Napoleon' if a little quiet at times; Samuel Wojenski succeeded in making the fate of 'Boxer' suitably tragic and also delivered a very impressive (and no doubt painful) pratfall, while Sean Reid was particularly good in a number of roles including 'Major'.

Stephen Cafferty's direction produced some very strong moments such as the opening torch-lit scene and the 'interrogations' but would have benefited from a few more stylised scenes as the rest of the play was fairly 'plain' in comparison. The strobe lighting fight scenes were done technically well but both were overlong to the extent of being uncomfortable.

Unfortunately the decision to use fixed masks didn't just result in sound problems, it also had the effect of putting a fairly substantial distance between the audience and the cast - not something that's easy to do in the Citizens small Circle Studio. The performances did lose a little from not being able to see the cast's expressions or even their eyes, and I think without the masks there might have been more of the sparkle required to lift this from an enjoyable evening to a memorable one.

Last year's group of GCNS students gave us the enjoyable Teechers and then progressed to deliver one of my highlights of 2007 with Lysistrata, and there was enough here to suggest that this group could be capable of giving us something similar - so do drop us an e-mail with details of future shows.

Animal Farm runs at the Citizens until Saturday 8th March.