The Nottingham New Theatre’s Freshers’ Fringe Review

Another new year brings another exciting dramatic venture to the University via the Nottingham New Theatre’s Freshers’ Fringe which burst with colourful vivacity onto the scene last night in a true celebration of all things theatrical. The Nottingham New Theatre’s first show proved a successful start to the season with entertaining performances of scenes taken from some best-loved plays and programmes of the television and stage repertoire.  Constantly switching between an eclectic mix of the banal, the subtle and the serious, the Freshers’ skits weaved together to provide an entertaining evening for all those involved –in the audience, on the stage and behind it.

The sheer variety of the Freshers’ sketches played testament to the skill, creativity and imagination of the actors and directors behind each performance. Bite-size sketches of comedy, horror and tragedy provided lively interpretations of playwrights and comedians sampled from the interminable spectrum of British performance. The Freshers’ Fringe this year for example featured comedy from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Monty Python’s The Argument Clinic and Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau and his infamous nemesis the Pink Panther, with much unexpected laugh-out-loud absurdities in-between.

Eleanor Porter’s Lady Bracknell (above) proved one of the most entertaining characters of the night, alongside the Progression of a Mad Hatter, directed by Ben Williamson and the sketch a Death of a Lord which proved fantastic in their hilarity. Freshers’ Fringe’s comedic offerings were all highly entertaining. As comedy acting, they say, is perhaps the most difficult of all, the sketches performed where always well-timed, well-acted and most importantly, seemed as fun for those performing as for those laughing in the audience below.

The Fringe’s success also came in its variety. Interspersed alongside were the more serious elements of the sketches which became more than just dramatic intervals between each comedic section. Each drama took on a shape and form of its own, with the physically dynamic Reminders vividly different to, amongst others, Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills directed by Eloise Hyde. Each sketch cleverly portrayed their emotive content with style and skill; effective costume in Blue Remembered Hills (below), simplicity in Poems and interesting stylistic additions from director Will Warren in Waves the Waves.

The Woman in Black featuring Emily Gutts and Kate Chesterfield opened the Fringe with an interesting and often overlooked section of the play, exploring performance and story telling, a message which remunerated throughout the Fringe with so many different sketches providing so much entertainment for the audience. There are still many more sketches from last night which remain unmentioned, proving just how many students were involved in the show and how many sketches were on offer.

Each was thoughtfully directed, the work and effort put in by backstage and onstage performers did not go unnoticed, or uncelebrated. The show in all its vibrant, exciting diversity became a celebration of every shade of drama. The difficult task of interweaving tragedy and comedy was executed with style and success, and it appears the Nottingham New Theatre is well and truly back on campus!

Katie Angus

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