Tag Archives: Jack Alexander

3Bugs Fringe Theatre presents: The Trojan Women @ The Guild of Students

the trojan women

When it was announced that 3Bugs would be taking an adaptation of Euripides’tragedy The Trojan Women to represent them at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, it was clear that the society is again pushing the boundaries of student theatre. An ambitious project to undertake as a whole, let alone to condense into a forty-five minute adaptation.  

The script, adapted by Director Georgina Thomas, is one to be admired as a work unto itself. The tragedy has been cleverly condensed to offer the audience a grounded overview of Euripides’ original text. Making the most of its limited timeslot, the adaptation, whilst pacey, avoids feeling rushed and still allows the audience to emphasize with its highly developed characters.

For me, this is a production that showcases the strength of its actors. The engaging opening monologue from Poseidon, played by Ben Firth, immediately set the tone as one of unease and foreboding, which picked up in intensity as the hardships faced by the women were revealed. The performances were strong throughout, however particular mention must go to first year student Lizzie Roberts, who gave a fantastic performance as the mentally unhinged Cassandra. Her exchange with the slimy Talthybius, played brilliantly by Jack Alexander, was especially well-executed.

The Chorus (Ella Darbyshire and Lucy Cheetham) are also noteworthy for praise. They bounced off each other with ease and carried the plotline between the speeches of the main characters. The wordy nature of the Greek text was balanced by some clever directorial choices, the addition of song; performed beautifully, broke up the dialogue and the blocking was well thought-out achieving maximum impact in the more emotional moments.  The set was minimal but effective, giving the actors free reign of the space, which they utilized brilliantly. They balanced the stage and created some beautiful stage images, further establishing the relationships between the characters.

Though the 1950s costume was visually striking, I struggled to see any further link to the era, and found it superfluous to the onstage action. The choice of clothing made it hard to ascertain the different social statuses of the characters, the chorus supposedly servants yet dressed in the same fashion as the ladies of the court. The actors, however, did well to combat this with their character relationships and objectives clearly defined; the stony Hecuba (Cassiah Joski-Jethi) was a stark contrast to the seductive Helen (Lauren Dickenson).

The adaptation offers a well-informed snapshot into the tragic lives of the women of Troy, and packs a hefty emotional punch. Andromache’s (Emily Anderson) moving “you may think me a feeble woman… but I am stronger than you think” stayed with me, and the production certainly makes you question the validity of the statement. The power struggle between the women and their male oppressors is evident and comes to a shocking climax in the suicide of Hecuba.  Left ambiguous, the audience questions if the act was a desperate fit of despair, or a more calculated choice to regain control.

A thought-provoking production, The Trojan Women offers a complex plotline, skillfully handled by its actors and will be performed 11th-16th August 11:00, and 18th-23rd August 17:00, at theSpace on the Mile (Space 1). Staying true to the classic text whilst brining its own original take on the characters and their relationships, 3Bugs is once again presenting a play set to challenge as well as entertain.  

 by Nicole Rixon

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3Bugs Fringe Theatre present: House of America @ The Guild of Students

house of america

Ah, the eighties. What a glorious time of nihilism, high-waisted jeans and no work. The lack of hope that characterises the eighties is what you get in bounds in Ed Thomas’s House of America. What you also get is three under-thirties struggling to escape from the Welsh valleys, or, more pointedly, the house they grew up in and their mentally fragile mother. Mrs Lewis, Boyo, Gwenny and Sid are living on top of one another, with the threat of the cast mines looming over their simple lives and their secrets adding to their claustrophobia. To attempt to escape, Gwenny and Sid dream of travelling to America, seeing their estranged father, and being like Joyce and Jack from On the Road, while Boyo remains reluctant.

While Thomas’s play conveys an overwhelming sense of hopelessness well, it is flawed in places. The cast mines initially work as an effective metaphor for the threat of modernity and the secrets that will tear the family apart, but the constant repetitions of ‘They’re coming closer,’ and ‘They’ll destroy this house,’ undermine it, making the play quite expositional. In fact, exposition is one of the major flaws of the script: the audience is often on the cusp of figuring something out (usually due to some excellent facial expressions or body language) but is denied the privilege through speech.

However, flaws with the text aside, this production was raw, chilling and uncomfortable to watch: the things I like best about theatre. Director Tamar Williams utilised the small space of the dance studio brilliantly, and the actors’ breaking of the fourth wall added to the play’s theme of suffocation. Williams’s interpretation was also brave in that it allowed the audience to become aware of the play’s theatricality subtly: the moving and banging of chairs to suggest a temporal or spatial shift was an excellent decision, with the sounds echoing the intrusive industrialism.

 Another triumph of this production was the inclusion of music (provided by a band led by Musical Director Nick Charlesworth). While the band could play rock and roll classics with ease, the real treat was the improvised traditional Welsh music, and the beautiful singing that often accompanied it.

 This play deals with a variety of issues, including two murders, mental illness and incest; this is a script that asks for a lot from its actors. The onstage chemistry and tension between Lily Blacksell and Jack Alexander was palpable, and I wish that the script would have allowed more space for this. Blacksell and Alexander could communicate their emotions through a series of subtle facial expressions, and their interactions were incredibly convincing (and therefore very difficult to watch).

Blacksell’s final monologue was the highlight of the play: sensitively interpreted, she captured the misfortune of Gwenny’s situation – one that is entirely beyond her control – to make her a tragic, although not sympathetic, character. Blacksell was able to move Gwenny from a girlish, daydreaming woman who wants to be like Joyce Johnson to a severely ill and troubled person.

 Jack Alexander was also able to capture Sid’s daydreaming personality well: his panic during his final scenes was intense. Alternatively, Jacob Lovick and Mary Davies were at their best when providing dark humour. Lovick’s comedic timing was consistently on point, while Davies was excellent at providing Mrs Lewis’s unwitting comedy.

 During its first act, I wasn’t really sure where House of America was heading. However, its second act provided the punches I was looking for. The play perhaps tries to throw a few too many, if I’m being honest: the truth about Clem Lewis or the incestuous relationship would provide sufficient drama for one play. However, Davies’s production is sensitively directed, imaginatively realised, host to some good performances, and contains some excellent live music, making this a play I am glad I haven’t missed. 

by Jenna Clake