RADA grads create an Illusion @swkplay
Always an extra feeling of excitement and anticipation going to see a play with fresh acting graduates in it: Will there be a potential star of the future in the cast?
Of course there is also a slight nervousness about the potential for green performances manifesting in over-acting and poor delivery although those failings can't exclusively be reserved for inexperienced actors.
This production of The Illusion at the Southwark Playhouse combined recent and new RADA grads with experienced actors and I'm happy to report there wasn't a dud performance among them. The fact that it is a fun and interesting play and all the newbies got to play more than one character or at least variations of the same character probably helped.
Tony Kushner's adaptation of Pierre Corneille's 17th comedy is about Pridament (James Clyde) who is searching for his son, Calisto (Charlie Archer), whom he drove away 15-years earlier. He visits mysterious and slightly sinister magician Alacandre (Melanie Jessop) who says she can show him what happened to Calisto.
The story of Calisto, a story of love, desire, heartbreak, jealousy and rivalry, shifts and changes with the same characters but roles and scenarios mildly mutating, as if looking at his story from different perspectives. The big question is whether the father can not only face the truth about himself but also the truth about Calisto.
The play is structured as a series of plays within the play, with the Pridament interjecting and responding to what he sees. As he watches so does we the audience, giving the play a 'storytime' feel peopled with larger than life and colourful characters such as Pleribo (Adam Jackson-Smith) the lisping, mad and cowardly gentleman who is a suitor for the object of Calisto's affection, the rich young lady Melibea (Daisy Hughes).
While not quite funny enough to really earn the label comedy - maybe it's lost in translation - it nonetheless made for an enjoyable evening at the theatre, an engaging story told in an interesting way. I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for the young cast members in the future, lets hope we get to see more of them.
The Illusion is on at the Southwark Playhouse until Sept 8 and I'm giving it 4 stars.