By Issy Flower
This year’s freshers have mostly been denied the opportunity to tread the boards, and the annual Freshers Play has been sadly postponed, along with live theatre as a concept. Nevertheless, they have persevered, and the online Freshers Showcase, ‘Unheard Voices’, clearly demonstrates the strength of talent in first year.
The showcase nicely balanced the dramatic and comic, the sung and the spoken, the male and the female. All performers were top standard, delivering their lines with a clear sense of dramatic intention and joy of performance. They demonstrated a lot of natural talent, if occasionally needing a tiny bit of extra polishing.
Standouts for me were Flo Lunnon and Sam Jones with their inventive and comedic songs which balanced comic and singing skill. In the monologue terms, Honor Douglas and Maddie Clark delivered pieces which showed subtlety and restrained emotion, holding the audience’s attention brilliantly. There were, however, too many talented people here to fully list them all- a testament both to the strength of the group and their well-judged choices.
Composition talent was also shown. Emily Wilson’s tender and sad monologue detailed the tensions between relationships and academia, the horror of Covid, and the strange and heartbreaking experience of this year’s freshers perfectly, and was delivered with a lovely realism by Chloe Roberts. Zoe Buckthorpe should be commended for composing and delivering a brilliant original song, which detailed the end of a relationship with the same subtle bitterness and regret as ‘drivers licence’. It would have been nice to see more original pieces—the cast are certainly all capable of delivering them—but the selection here makes me very hopeful for the future.
The selection, arrangement and direction of pieces in general should be commended, especially for first-time production team members. Jodie Sale and James Bailey clearly know these pieces and performers back-to-front, and time has been spent over polishing them to a high standard. The arrangements of pieces was also skilfully done, potentially problematic considering the number of songs from Waitress – however, I was never bored and variety was kept up, showing the full range of the group. It was also lovely to see the production team introduce the play, giving them a recognition we sometimes forget to within wider student theatre. They should be commended for putting together such a strong show under such difficult circumstances.
Overall, the showcase is a tonic for people who think theatre might be on its way out. The commitment, energy and talent shown here suggests a very bright future for DST.
Image Credit: Durham Student Theatre