This unprecedented project would be a toughie even for Jack Bauer. Twenty-four hours, ten billion freshers (ok forty-three, to be precise) and one mission; to devise and perform, from scratch, an hour long play fit to entertain a full house of discerning New Theatre- goers. With a strict time limit and a vast cast to organise, had the New Theatre been too ambitious?
The play was divided into four sections, each covering a six hour period of the twenty-four hour journey of a newspaper; from production, to circulation and eventually to trash. Transitions between the different tones and scenarios of each section were skillfully paced; no mean feat when tackling topics as disparate as the credit crunch, a balding Amy Winehouse and even a kind of nu-rave tramp war.
Equally well managed was the forty-three strong cast, providing opportunities for moments of larger scale synchronised movements. The choreography added a striking visual dimension and was impressively smooth considering the limited amount of rehearsal time. Particularly effective was the sequence that transformed newspaper editor to conductor, commanding an orchestra of journalists, in a symphony of newspaper jargon, punctuated by the sound of rustling paper.
Despite the challenging brief, it was moments like this that allow us to conclude that the New Theatre’s latest endeavour certainly paid off. The 24 Hour Freshers Play served as a tantalising showcase of new talent, a mere taster of what promises to be an exciting year. Jack Bauer eat your heart out.
Isabel Roth & Anne Herlihy