Last night, I had the pleasure of watching Hild Bede Theatre’s Freshers’ Play, ‘Daisy Pulls It Off’. This lively comedy depicts the adventures of Daisy Meredith, a new scholarship student at the distinguished Grangewood School, and features pillow fights, hockey matches and a treasure hunt.
There are some very strong performances. Lauren Hayes excels as Daisy – her face lights up and she had a shining earnestness and warmth which renders her immediately likeable to the audience. Sophia Pym, who plays Daisy’s best friend (the jovial optimist Trixie Martin) also has great expression, excellent comic timing, and a real buoyancy on stage. Her exclamations of ‘Jubilate!’ and ‘Capital suggestion!’ never failed to make me smile. Both Lauren Hayes and Sophia Pym have good physicality and unfailing energy. They feed off and react to one another very well. They have a wonderful sense of camaraderie on stage; Daisy and Trixie’s friendship is very believable. Their scenes are a joy to watch, whether Trixie is trying to refrain from sneezing while they are hiding behind the blackboard or attempting to solve the riddle about the treasure’s location.
Another stand-out performance comes from Phoebe Masters as Clare, the Head Girl; she captures the essence of her character very well – authoritative yet a good sport. She commands the stage, has excellent clarity and pacing, and manages to make her lines sound spontaneous. I also enjoyed the performances of Beth Mortimer and Georgia Crown as the conniving duo Sybil and Monica. Beth Mortimer’s snide glances, as well as the constant conceited flicking of her plaits, are very effective in establishing her snobbish character. Equally, Georgia Crown succeeds in creating a multifaceted character as Monica. She is initially hostile to Daisy, derisively looking her up and down and gossiping about her, but shows a more generous side to her character upon joining in with Trixie and Daisy’s dictionary game. Each schoolgirl has a distinct personality and for this, Director Francesca Haydon-White and her Assistant Director Courtney Power should be commended.
Unfortunately, there was a fault with the lighting. This meant that there were no blackouts (rendering scene transitions slightly less smooth than they could have been) and visibility was poor when characters were sitting at the front of the stage. However, the actors and crew dealt with this issue very well and were not fazed by it. Perhaps it might have been better to have lighting changes when the performers were clicking in and out of addressing each other and addressing the audience. Vocal projection was, largely, very good – there were only a few moments when I strained to catch the words. Another small area for improvement would be that the actors should strive to maintain their characters in entrances and exits. However, this is only occasionally noticeable and many entrances are very strong, particularly those of Trixie, who bounded on stage, and Sybil, who snobbishly strutted.
Overall ‘Daisy Pulls It Off’ is an enjoyable watch. The actors all show promise and I am excited to see what they perform in next. It was, however, a real pity that the audience size was very small. There are still two performances left so I urge you to go to Caedmon and watch: the play is great fun and it is certainly inspiring to see the new talent on the stage.
Photography: Hild Bede Theatre