Not for over five years has a student-written production graced the stage of the VCT, but it made an impressive return. Libby Richards and Maddie Lock’s adaptation of the Italian classic A Servant of Two Masters (more recently adapted to the well-known comedy One Man, Two Guvnors) was a fast-paced and brilliantly witty tale, all squeezed into the allotted 50 minutes. Directed by the writers and Jemima Stephenson, the story was one of love, loss and chaos whose unique brand of humour had a packed VCT in hysterics. The set, based on three doors that were changed depending on the location (along with Helen Clark’s unenviable task of writing the location on a whiteboard for every scene change) was one that provided a fitting backdrop to the performance.
From the outset, Phoebe Rayner’s “It’s Patricia” was a stand-out performance. An accent so crisply polished accompanied the script perfectly; “Oh, what an actress!” one might say. One of the audience’s favourite lines was delivered with such aplomb, it could have been from a famous philosopher: “love travels through marriage like poo through a small dog”. Genius. Katie Hauger’s dancing mother superior, coupled brilliantly with Phoebe’s Patricia for a true comic partnership. Perhaps one of the more memorable characters was Seb Friedrich’s Valentino, a true Italian romantic, waltzing around the stage with a graceful elegance well worthy of such tight jeans! Leo Leman and Ella Steidle returned once again to the VCT stage, this time as lovers, and the melodrama of the situation was expertly portrayed by both.
How PJ Cunningham didn’t lose her voice, however, is equally impressive. Her croaky impression of her dead brother (“I’m wearing my dead brother’s clothes”…) was hilarious, and how she managed to maintain it for the whole week is beyond me. Her chemistry with her lover, the other ‘master’, played by Joe Howell, was very impressive. In such a comic play, the moment when both believe the other to be dead and bump into each other during their suicide speeches was actually surprisingly moving. Narrating the performance were the ‘grannies’ played by Claire Abrahamson and Caroline Zoet. Following the past two South plays, the grannies seem to be a recurring theme…
This play was, however, the performance of the “Servant” herself. Laura Pollard’s Talulah was bouncy, energetic and mad, harking, almost, back to her performance in Alice. Her many dilemmas that sprung up during the play were fantastically portrayed; and her final romance with Seb’s Valentino was a match everyone wanted to see. There were too many moments in this hectic comedy to mention, but from ridiculous pie-slapping comedy (through the waiters, William Gudgeon, Jemima Young, Jack McKee and ‘unsuspecting audience member’ Jamie Pudge) to unfortunate baggage handlers (Maddy Pollard, Millie Glaister and Helen Clark) this was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. The ambitious South cast (ably aided by members of Cubitt and East house) proved the very epitome of house drama. A slick and professional production, though with the vast array of talent available to the directors, casting was an unenviable task.
Libby, Maddie and Jemima’s script and direction was carried out ably and enthusiastically by a really impressive cast. The future for house drama looks bright.