Live theatre returns to Clifton College’s Redgrave Theatre

After a long time away, live theatre returned to Clifton College last week with performances of three one act plays by Years 9, 10 & 12. Our live audience in the Redgrave Theatre was joined by viewers from across the UK, mainland Europe, South America, Hong Kong and Japan over the two evenings in what was Clifton College’s first live streamed theatre performance work.

On Wednesday evening the Year 12 students performed Enda Walsh’s darkly comic CHATROOM. A chilling, blackly comic tale of manipulation, cyberbullying and adolescent insecurity.

This multi-layered and insightful play was performed with focus and commitment by the ensemble cast who brought a fearlessness to their handling of the difficult subject matter. Their approach brought out the pitch black comedy as well as the emotional thrust of the material. The play raised important questions about teen mental health and how we as a society look out for one another in an ever more digital world. The piece was well received by both the live and digital audience with praise for a choice of material that was willing to tackle challenging and topical issues.

On Thursday evening we were then treated to a double bill of one act plays performed by first Year 9 and then Year 10 students. The first play of the evening was THE MUSICIANS by Patrick Marber. This bold comedy tells the story of the orchestra of Ridley Road school who travel to Moscow to give a concert at the European Festival of Youth, before an audience of cultural bigwigs. They run into trouble when their instruments are impounded by Customs at the Airport. Luckily, Alex, who cleans the hall, is a devout Pinball Wizard fan who comes up with a plan…

The Year 9 cast dove head first into the quick fire ensemble performance and left the audience with little room to breathe moving quickly from one joke to the next and filling the stage with their energy and attack delivering comedic performances which the audience enjoyed from start to finish.

The last performance of the two nights was DNA by Dennis Kelly. This production, performed by Year 10 students tells the story of a group of teenagers whose bullying of another student goes too far, leaving them with an unplanned death on their conscience. The depth of the script and the witty dialogue supporting the Year 10 students to tell the story with verbal gymnastics throughout extended monologues while keeping a breakneck pace from the start. The ensemble were superb allowing the lighter moments to shine between the pathos of the story.

Across all three groups the students worked tremendously hard with Mr Saunders, to bring the productions to life in a very short (seven-week) production period. All of the students need to be highly commended for the passion, effort, energy and commitment they showed from the first rehearsal right through to the performance nights. These productions show that even after a little while away theatre is still very much alive and kicking at Clifton College. Hopefully we can build on these productions and welcome audiences back to the Redgrave Theatre both in person and digitally in the Michaelmas Term with the Senior Musical.

Photos by Stewart McPherson