Review: HBT’s Miscast 2: Seasons of Love

★★★☆☆

By Honor Douglas

Hild Bede Theatre’s ‘Miscast 2: Seasons of Love’ is sure to brighten up a lockdown day despite its flaws. Different types of ‘love’ are explored in eighteen performances, with the expression of this love varying from intense to more restrained.

The strongest performances made the ‘Miscast’ musical songs, monologues and sonnets their own. Rather than trying to sound like a man, or sing as high as a female soprano can, most performers bravely added their own twist to some classical theatre pieces. A great example of this was the laid back, folk-like renditions of Mamma Mia’s ‘The Winner Takes it All’ and Grease’s ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ by Didi Bostock. Providing his own accompaniment on the acoustic guitar, Bostock adopted these songs and produced a gentle version that Olivia Newton-John and Meryl Streep would be in awe of.

Olivia Newton-John and Meryl Streep would be in awe

Bostock is not the only performer who graced our screens twice. Tansy Adam demonstrated her talent by performing in a trio with Florence Lunnon and Vivienne Shaw before offering her version of Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 98.’ These performances were polar opposites but equally as strong.

While the previous ‘HBT Miscast’ saw actors challenging themselves to play roles of different ages and sexualities, the second version saw actors playing only different genders. This was enjoyable, and the performances were strong, but if those in charge of casting could have increased the range of ‘miscasts’, the production’s professionalism could have been improved.

Sure to brighten up a lockdown day

The technical elements were the most faulted, as they made the production informal rather than professional. The decision not to have a uniform approach to each performance was displeasing. Rather than each act either having a blank screen, using a green screen or having neither of those, there was an extraordinarily distracting mixture. Audiences were also distracted by the inclusion of descriptions of how the performances relate to the theme ‘Seasons of Love’ in bold text on the screen during the actors’ performances. I found myself confused about whether to focus on the actor or the description. That said, the decision to present the arrangements in a narrative approach, from heartbreak to grand admissions of love was intriguing. 

Some actors used the online format to their advantage. Will Drake’s ‘I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)’ will go down in DST history as a standout performance. The effort he put into this number was exceptional; he was his own harmoniser and knew precisely where to look and when, while maintaining his character throughout and singing so well that his voice almost sounded autotuned.

Unfortunately, the technical elements and informal quality of the production did not do justice to the performers. There was an inspiring array of talent on display, but the production’s faults overpowered their brilliance. I would encourage readers to watch the production for the performers’ sake, who are a truly talented bunch.

Image: Hild Bede Theatre Company

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