Days of Significance
By Roy Williams
Directed by Abigail Graham
Performed by The University of Northampton BA (Hons) Acting Third Year Students
As an actor, unless you are wealthy enough to turn down work, you do what you know best and take the part and play it to the best of your ability. For me this was an unpleasant play and not particularly well written but trust me when I say it was extremely well acted. I am glad that the programme leader chose this production as dealing with controversy is a part of an actor’s life.
So our scene could be any town on a noisy Friday night. To be honest it reminds me of the town that where I work, Reading, that turns from a town to a zoo in a few hours. Large amounts of puking, urinating, snogging, fighting and special serving of todger-twirling make it a proper night. Young men due to go to war, young girls out for whatever they can get. It makes for a night to remember and probably one to try and forget. That hangover is going to be a bitch!
We meet two cousins, Trish (Aoife Smyth) and Hannah (Penelope May). Aoife portrays Trish as hard as nails, ready to ruck and as randy as a three balled tomcat. Not a sweet character but fully bought to fighting, swearing life perfectly. This really is a great performance.
Penelope gives Hannah some heart, some moral compass, even if it doesn’t always point north. Her final interaction with Lenny (Jake Rivers) at the end of the play is worth the price of the ticket alone.
While we are talking about Lenny, Jake gives him some depth and with the heavy beard, the age as well. Not the biggest part but extremely well played and delivered on stage.
In the second act we find ourselves in Basra and I really love the use of the video messages. Cleverly done and used to show the change in the character as well.
Kudos to the actors playing the male soldiers not least of all as three out of the four are female. In this Sophie Guiver as Ben, Matilda Hunt as Sean and Elizabeth Adejimi as Sgt Brooks really excel. Together with Connor McAvoy as Jamie they are up to their ears in testosterone and adrenaline, they show their bravado, their fear as they are caught behind enemy lines.
Back home and we have a wedding scene which finally brings a little fun and levity to the whole play, despite that Trish is still picking fights with anyone breathing including poor Hannah! Everyone in the background with non speaking lines are so watchable. Subtle performances in the half light as the drama plays out stage front.
Some great dialogue between Hanna and Dan (Stuart Warren) balances the pro and anti war arguments. Really nicely delivered by Stuart and Penelope. We also get a little more of Jamie as he faces his court-marshal. This is a better scene for Connor as he is allowed to fully express himself.
So a short review but a heartfelt one. I only have one more thing to add. If I saw this play advertised again, I would not go. If however they showed me the programme and I saw this same cast looking back at me, I would buy tickets in a heartbeat. You are all so damn talented!
My note for the Director Abigail Graham. No clue how you did it but you made this a performance to remember for the right reasons. The writer was of no help there! Congratulations.