Durham’s top 5: 2017

By Helena Snider and Helen Chatterton 

1. The Not So Divine Comedy (February 9)

Following its success at the 2017 Durham Drama Festival, this production underwent a name change to become Angels in Erotica. It performed as such at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to sold-out audiences, before returning for one night only as part of the returners’ showcase. The play’s slogan inevitably describes it perfectly: “God is gay and the new messiah is a woman.” With an abundance of satirical comedy, this play was perfect for a student audience, and a credit to the University’s own Freddie Drewer.

2. The Wasp (March 16)

The Wasp was perhaps a less-hyped affair, but my personal favourite piece of 2017 theatre. The striking performances of Damson Young and Alexandra Hannant made the show. The ingenuity of staging the play in Cafédral, with the set emulating both a quaint little café and Heather’s prim and proper living room, was highly successful. In her review for Palatinate, Sofya Grebenkina wrote that: “This is not a play for the faint-hearted. And having erroneously expected to be inundated with insect-related facts, I instead pleasantly chanced upon a powerful work of theatre.” It took a while to process the events of the play, but it’s one that has stuck in my mind ever since.

3. The Bloody Chamber (February 22)

Described as “as flawless a theatrical effort as one will ever see as part of DST”, The Bloody Chamber shocked and entertained audiences in equal measure. Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber invited the audience into a haunting tale of violence and sexuality. Combining the perfect cast, crew and location, First Theatre Company created a production that formed a highly memorable part of the DST calendar.

4. 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche (October 27)

Whilst the premise of the production was a little abstract, (an annual quiche breakfast interrupted by the nuclear apocalypse), it was one that excelled thanks to its award-winning script, enthusiastic and talented cast, and exceptional direction. Reviewer Adele Cooke had high praise for the production, describing “this show is the epitome of everything Durham student theatre should strive for: polished, professional and entertaining.”

5. Spamalot (January 25)

DULOG’s shows at the Gala theatre was perhaps the most ambitious of any of their productions. It was one of Durham’s most anticipated show of 2017, and audiences were hardly let down. With high-energy dance and songs, both the cast and the crew were praised. In his review, Adam Hope commented on the show’s ability to elicit laughs, commending Sam Rietbergen and Luke Blacklock in particular. Let’s just hope this year’s Gala show reaches the same dizzy heights.

Photograph: Rosie Dart 

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