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Drama Studio London Two-Year Diploma in Professional Acting Graduate Showcase

showcase Photo: Shutterstock

This rather originally configured showcase presents 17 women and seven men, a gender imbalance which is unusual for Drama Studio. Working in groups of four and five – with some male roles taken by women – they give us just five extended extracts. This is an imaginative approach which spares us the traditional showcase bittiness (all those 30-second monologues!), although it’s arguably disadvantageous to see each student in action only once. There are some inspired choices of material too, including some Rattigan and a hilarious sketch entitled 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche by Andrew Hobgood and Evan Linder, which is completely new to me and inserts some real, very welcome, freshness.

The opening scene – from the highly familiar Immaculate by Oliver Lansley – falls rather flat, possibly because it’s always nerve-racking to be first up. Ulrike von Strombeck has flashes of verve as Gabriel and Kate Llewellyn digs out some suitable weary incredulity for Mia. Kesaria Torelli makes valiant efforts to glitter evilly as Lucifer but, in general, there’s too much mannered acting here for the extract to sustain interest for long.

Tusk Tusk by Polly Stenham is a searingly painful play and these four young actors play well off each other to bring out much of the anguish. Three children/teenagers are unsupervised at home, their mother missing. Evie Killip – a notably attentive and reactive actor – makes a fine job of the distressed youngest child. She listens in such a way that attention is focused on whatever she’s heeding and the result is moving as she progresses from a child enjoying a game to one who is injured and really ought to go to hospital but can’t. Benjamin Garrison is very watchable too as the elder brother who has tried to bring a girl – probably a whore – home but then has to deal with his sisters. Lucy Harper manages mood changes well as the elder sister and Susannah Edgley, as the outsider, is an effective dramatic foil.

And so to that very funny 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche in which a 1950s widows’ group eventually admit one by one that they’re all lesbians as they consume a prize-winning quiche made by Grace (Cinthia Lilen). Isabel Sutton’s orgasmic gorging of the quiche is hilariously incongruous and Melusine Lenoir speaks with her eyes and face to fine comic effect.

Although it’s pleasing to see the inclusion of an extract from French Without Tears in a showcase, this is a rather lacklustre rendering of it, but Alex Marchi gives an engaging gnomic account of Roderigo, and Larissa Oates adds value as Diana, who speaks in a baritone, heightened RP accent and has a certain stage presence.

In contrast, the work in the final piece – from Party by Tom Basden – is pretty sparky. The five characters are at a meeting to found a political party, except that Matthew Pieterse’s character, gormless Duncan, has misunderstood the purpose of the gathering. Pieterse – it’s an enjoyable performance – gets exactly the right blend of foolishness and cunning. Laurie Coldwell is strong as Jared the peacemaker and the continual quarrels between Jones (Chloe Darke) and Mel (Susannah Scott) are skilfully managed. Glykeria Dimou is fun as geeky Phoebe here too and there’s plenty of quite thoughtful movement and interaction.

Expert’s choice

Irene East, casting director, chooses Evie Killip and Benjamin Garrison

Showcase information

Venue: Leicester Square Theatre

Date: May 28, 2015

Directors: Crispin Harris, Helen Tennison

Students: Daniel Anderson, Niamh Byrne, Julie Cheung-Inhin, Laurie Coldwell, Chloe Darke, Glykeria Dimou, Susannah Edgley, Claire Emmott, Benjamin Garrison, Will Gillham, Lucy Harper, Evie Killip, Melusine Lenoir, Cinthia Lilen, Kate Llewellyn, Alex Marchi, Larissa Oates, Peter Pearson, Matthew Pieterse, Susannah Scott, Isabel Sutton, Kesaria Torelli, Ana Torre, Ulrike Von Strombeck

Running time: 45mins

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