As the sound of demonic laughter rang through the auditorium, we knew we were in for a treat. As the lights came up around the source of the noise, Nick Jeffrey (Gorge Mastromas) could be seen wiping sprawls off a blackboard whilst hysterically laughing, before slowly tramping to the back of the stage to sit astride his ‘throne’. Way to make an entrance. The grandness of the set is only exemplified by the throne-like seat positioned on a platform back-centre stage. Framed with crooked wire mesh and a broken ‘lean-to’ bookcase, the throne (literally) takes centre stage throughout the play, as though forever warning us of Gorge’s demise. And let’s not forget what the throne is actually made out of— a series of ‘forgotten’ nuts and bolts and disused engine parts. Gorge is every part the fallen man when commandeering his iron throne upon this beast of a set. It is truly a credit to the insightful director Ben Williamson and producer James Bentley for creating such a set.
Moving swiftly on, much like the play does, a chorus briskly stride onto stage to begin to tell us Gorge’s story. In short, the chorus are what makes this play a pleasure to watch and listen to. They are punchy, sharp, quick-witted and interject each other with perfect comic timing throughout most of the first half. The chorus sections are performed by actors who, although they take on other roles, are well aware that these sections are not for one of them to take the limelight. They bounce off each other effortlessly in a bid to tell us Gorge’s tale with such clear diction that not a single line was dropped. The energy and speed of this deliverance allows the didactic message of the play to ring true—‘Goodness or Cowardice?’—as in this moment, they pause and stare at the audience as though actually questioning us. Combined with the lighting that plunges the stage into darkness and shines obtrusively in our faces, I felt compelled to stand to and answer this (rhetorical?) question for myself.
The chorus are what makes this play a pleasure to watch and listen to
The lighting was cleverly designed in most of the scenes to help reflect the collapse of Gorge, particularly the use of flickering lights. However, there were times when this could have been used more effectively. For instance, the quirky neon graffiti painted on the back wall was not as well utilised as it could have been. Bearing the key message of the play (‘Goodness or Cowardice?’) it seemed only to be lit up and reflected once or twice. The lighting in the second half may have also been more effective had it been slightly dimmer to add to the intense atmosphere that the actors had so skilfully created.
The quirky neon graffiti painted on the back wall was not as well utilised as it could have been
Nick Jeffrey was a phenomenal lead with an equally phenomenally difficult role to play. He played a young boy, an ever-gaining-in-confidence teenager, a timid young man, a bold, manipulative middle-aged man and finally, a nutty, batty, cantankerous old man. Not an easy feat. Yet he pulls it off seemingly effortlessly; Jeffrey’s performance will have you raving no matter what. It is a credit to the rest of the cast that their performances are just as memorable. Amelia Gann, dominates the stage, oozing feminine confidence and prowess. This intimidating performance contrasts nicely with the only other actress on-stage. Libby Boyd plays Louisa in a sublimely naturalistic way, creating a sympathetic character that breaks all the hearts in the audience. Each actor gets their time to shine— Nick Cain plays a bumbling buffoon of a CEO, Diderik Ypma plays Gorge’s brother with a subtlety to him that goes beyond any seen on the New Theatre stage and Wesley Nash had the makings of a younger Gorge with the character’s confidence and self-assuredness faultlessly shining through on stage.
Nick Jeffrey was a phenomenal lead with an equally phenomenally difficult role to play
Overall, an ABSOLUTE must-see. No exceptions, no questions asked. Join the secret club for yourself and see the possibilities shown in The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas.
‘The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas’ is on at 7:30pm at the Nottingham New Theatre from Wednesday 3rd-Saturday 6th December, with a 2:30pm performance on the Saturday. To reserve tickets, click here.
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