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Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts BA (Hons) Acting Showcase review at Criterion Theatre London

It’s a big ask to showcase the talents of 37 students (23 men and 14 women) properly in just 75 minutes and 51 items. Inevitably there are talented and accomplished students tucked away in this group who simply don’t get the chance to demonstrate what they can do. Nonetheless there are some that stand out and the women in this group are all strong.

Jocasta King, for example, brings just the right level of pretty, innocent passion to Juliet’s thoughts as she awaits the Nurse with the message from Romeo as well as being a useful dynamic force in Enda Walsh’s Chatroom along with the powerful Abigail Morgan (whose angry, tearful Charlie in Vera Vera Vera is impressive too), waspish Isaak Cainer, watchable Conor Neaves and assertive Lachlan Bond.

Another woman to watch for is Nicole Lecky who makes a lovely job of Rose, tiptoeing around, making sandwiches and pretending to be grown-up in Amelia Bullmore’s Di and Viv and Rose with Harriet Hare having fun as the upper class Viv and Joanna Wills playing well off both the others. In a completely different mood Lecky also gives us Louise in Terry Johnson’s Piano/Forte describing a rape in a lorry cab near Leeds – with nice timing and aplomb.

I also liked Rachel Ige’s work as Sister – terrific body language well controlled as she shakes with distress – in Random by Debbie Tucker Green and again as the fairly nonchalant Rachel in Port by Simon Stephens with a suitably nervous and diffident Theo Auld as Danny.

It is always a pleasure to be at a showcase which presents varied material. So, as well as the Romeo and Juliet piece it was good to hear Harriet Hare finding all the right determination and certainty for Cathy describing her love for Heathcliff in an extract from Wuthering Heights. Also in the mix is Toni Peach as the heavily pregnant and rarely reasonable Jo in part of Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey with Matthew Warhurst bringing exasperated anger to the long suffering Geoffrey. Edward Kemp’s 5/11, with Gregor Davidson in imperious, declamatory mode as King James, is an interesting choice too.

Among the men James Hartnell’s is a memorable performance as Johnny agonisingly remembering his mother in Remember You by Alanah Rose. Ryan Penny stands out too. He is very funny – probably a natural gift for humour – both as Sid describing the farting dog in Tim Price’s For Once and, in a fine three minutes of theatre, as the manic, troubled, terrified Edward, one of three Beirut hostages in Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Frank McGuinness. The others are played by Felix Auer as the overwrought, weepy, disoriented new arrival and by Jack Christie as the gravelly Adam.

Also hilarious – and, like Penny with an unusually expressive face – is Billy Coughlin. He is delightful as Mr Brain making a traumatic drama out of shopping in Sainsbury’s in Natural Selection by Paul Jenkins. His second appearance is in Party by Tom Basden, the penultimate item in the showcase and one of the best things in it. The castable Coughlin clutches his braces and gets a laugh out of every word and movement. All five actors in this piece work slickly and effectively together. Alice Pitt-Carter as Phoebe has excellent comic timing, Will Bridges as Jones makes an entertaining job of being pernickety, Charlotte Bloomsbury as Mel is the articulate, sensible, upper middle class strand in the mix and Calum Fleming as Jared tries to dominate but fails engagingly.

All in all a reasonably enjoyable showcase by Mountview then, despite its unwieldiness. However, rather too many participants lack any real vocal energy and have yet to learn to play to a standard auditorium. But it is a rather inspired idea to end with a whole ensemble piece of choral speaking – Just So by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

Expert choices: Colin Appleby, actor/producer, Rolling Junk: Ryan Penny, Nicole Lecky. Dee-Dee Crosher, Kenneth Earle Personal Management: Billy Coughlin, Nicole Lecky

Susan Elkin

Production Information

Criterion Theatre, London, April 9

Director
Caroline Eves
Students
Felix Auer, Theo Auld, Lyle Barke, Charlotte Bloomsbury, Lachlan Bond, Matt Bradley-Robinson, Will Bridges, Becky Bullman, lzaak Cainer, Lois Chimimba, Jack Christie, Billy Coughlin, Gregor Davidson, Sion Emyr, Michelle Fahrenheim, Calum Fleming, Kyle Fraser, Harriet Hare, Alexa Hartley, James Hartnell, Rachel Ige, Grant Kilburn, Jocasta King, Nicole Lecky, Amy Leighton, Abigail Morgan, Conor Neaves, Darryl Oakley, Toni Peach, Ryan Penny, Alice Pitt-Carter, Prince Plockey, Elliott Pritchard, Sarah Smallwood, Alex Southern, Matthew Warhurst, Joanna Wills
Running time
1hr 15mins
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