Tom Stoppard’s radio play “The dog it was that died” was given a fresh outing in the VCT this term, as JLC guided the Loveday House Players in presenting a ‘foley play’. This ambitious project saw a team of ten students, with equipment ranging from a bucket of gravel to tubular bells via bricks, plastic sheets and bird callers, recreate all the necessary sound effects to bring to life this madcap Cold-War Era spy spoof.
In front of the ‘Men in Black’ (sound effects team decked out in sun glasses and skinny ties) the actors delivered dialogue into period microphones pausing and responding only as the sound effects struck (quite literally!). Max Hager was superb as Giles Blair, the downtrodden crumpled MI5 spy trying desperately to prevent various scandals from breaking, carrying the show as the central character with enormous energy and excellent comic timing. He was supported by Toby Kittow, the suicidal double agent, repeatedly flinging himself from great heights into watery graves, and Charlie Forrest as the overzealous MI6 agent convinced of scandals brewing left right and centre. Impressively this was the first outing on the Cranleigh stage for both Toby and Charlie and they carried their parts with outstanding poise and characterisation.
Any madcap radio play wouldn’t be complete without a supporting cast of eccentric characters. They were all memorable: in the lunatic asylum we met Commodore Seddon, a drunk and vociferous old duffer played with lunacy by Joss Pinnington, and a randy Matron played by Hugh Phelps in an excellent drag turn. Noah Hathaway presented a cheese-obsessed vicar, and Nell Mitchell a blasé cleaning lady who was helping out with the surgical operations performed as part of the Donkey Sanctuary owned by Mrs Blair (played with coolness and strength by the ever-excellent Ellie Smith). Will Jay had a turn as Mr Slack, the impatient landscape gardener stomping around in the gravel.
Even though there isn’t space in this review, each member of the sound effects team deserves a mention for their incredible discipline and precision in helping to make this production both original and engrossing. Nick Kelly, the head of house will now be remembered for his only stage appearance as the noise of the stricken donkey enduring an operation. There is a bright future in Loveday for drama!
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