By Charlotte Thompson
In Caedmon Hall on a dark and drizzly Tuesday evening I’m sure the last thing anyone would expect to see is a room full of people receiving director’s notes on how to look more seductive. However that is exactly what the cast of The Graduate were up to.
This year Hild Bede Theatre are putting on The Graduate, a play adapted from a hugely popular film in the sixties, following Benjamin Braddock, a young man who has just graduated from university, who returns home and is seduced by a friend of his parents, Mrs Robinson.
Protagonist Benjamin Braddock is played by Matthew Davey, and explains that The Graduate is ultimately a ‘cult classic’ but this production is ‘very different from the film’ so the whole cast are excited to see what the audience will think of their final efforts. Speaking to Co-Director, Emily Fox and Assistant Director, Emily Hicks they both agreed that this play is unique as the play is ‘not something going on in the Durham drama scene.’ With ‘nudity and stripping’ taking place in the production it is proving to be a ‘very interesting performance for the whole cast’ and is ‘stretching a lot of people out of their comfort zone – both in terms of the cast and hopefully for the audience too’, which is another factor that inspired them to apply for their positions. The sexual nature of the play is certainly a unique element to this production and the Directors have embraced this challenge hoping that it ‘creates a lot of opinions,’ although they have decided to make it ‘far more comic as opposed to graphic’.
Corinna Harrison, playing Mrs Robinson, revealed that cast have had only ‘two and a half weeks’ to put this production together from the day they were cast, and it is clear that the whole team have dedicated every minute of their time to make it work as they have been rehearsing every day to create what is clearly going to be a fantastic piece of theatre. When questioned on any difficulties the team have had Harrison agreed that other than ‘the getting naked’ – she explained to her fellow cast mates when questioned that it is pretty much ‘everything off but the heels’ – the biggest hurdle for the cast was ‘definitely the American accent’, with the directors and the entire cast vehemently agreeing. The directors have also decided to stick with the original sixties era as well as the American setting, as Hicks explained that although the ‘humour is still funny now, removing that context may make it less so’ and Tania Chakraborti, playing Mrs Braddock, supported this saying that this makes the production ‘a lot of fun’ for the cast and hopefully for the audience as well.
Speaking to the cast it is clear that as much as this production is ‘steamy’ and ‘sexy’ there is a real depth to the piece. Davey explained that it is ‘difficult not to associate with Benjamin’ as ‘he’s a very similar age [to university students] and doesn’t know what he wants to do in life or what he wants to do after graduation’, and I am sure a lot of students can relate to the feelings of this central character.
With nudity, a sex scandal, ‘the fittest frep as a stripper’ and ‘an actual priest playing a priest’, this production is certainly going to shake up the drama scene and is sure to be a night full of laughter. Due to what is promised by Producer Charlie Hyde to be ‘really funky’ staging and set, there will be limited seats in the theatre so make sure to book your seats now!
‘The Graduate’ will be showing in Caedmon Hall from Wednesday, 9th of November until Sturday, 12th of November at 19:30. Book your tickets here.
Photograph: Hild Bede Theatre