The beautiful setting of the Playfair Hall and the harpsichord playing in the background as we entered all added to the ambience and anticipation. The audience is arranged around the room so that the action takes place all around us and we feel that this is perhaps how this play was first presented, in an aristocratic drawing room. The set is simple but effective – a white backdrop on which is painted the front of Sir John’s house, complete with windows and doors through which scheming lovers and servants peep and eavesdrop, and two curtained arbours at either side. The costumes capture perfectly the spirit and the period of the play – colourful and fun, with a modern touch.
As to the acting, well it has to be said that this would be a difficult play to tackle for any company, far less a company of students and, in the end, this is an ambitious attempt which doesn’t quite come off. The high ceilings of the Playfair Hall needed strong clear voices to overcome the echoing space and it was difficult to catch all of the dialogue at times. The actors need to slow down and enunciate more clearly, at times it felt as if they were just reading a script rather than actually acting. There is a lot of quickfire dialogue and I felt some of the cast were too busy trying to master the lines and unfamiliar language to actually focus on the meaning and significance and the humour. The comic timing was a bit off but there were some comic moments, the highlight being James Millar as Lady Fanciful, loud and exuberant in drag. The stand out performance for me was Millie Mountain as Belinda who looked and sounded the part of a restoration lady.
Overall, it looked good and there were some good directorial touches but it just needs a bit more work on the presentation. Ten out of ten for trying though.