Arts Reviews

“Something Phenomenal”- Theatre Review: DNA @ Djanogly Theatre

Jasmine Butler

DNA is a dark and twisty play, that centres around a suspicious death. The production arrived at the University of Nottingham’s Djanogly Theatre on 3rd May, and will run through until the 6th May. It is a collaborative production, between the Lakeside Arts and Nottingham New Theatre. Jasmine Butler attended, and reviews.

The Lakeside-Nottingham New Theatre collaboration is an incredible event to exist, providing wonderful experiences for youth actors to participate in professional theatre making; and DNA was a testament to these abilities. The performance standard was incredible; there was no doubt that every person involved was incredibly talented. To put on a play to this standard with only two weeks rehearsal during your Easter holidays, with only a week’s break from University, is not an easy task, but the cast and crew really did rally to the challenge. 

You watch relationships build and crumble

The play itself was one I was unfamiliar with, yet within minutes I was drawn into the production, and entirely immersed in the performance. An hour really isn’t long enough, as you watch relationships build and crumble around a group of students dealing with the accidental death of their friend, and the consequences that come with hiding it. 

Special mention has to go to Jess Beadle Platt who played Leah, who held the audience for large sections of the show, as she monologues about everything and anything with incredible naturalism. Furthermore, their characterisation of the babbly and excitable Leah perfectly complemented the incredible performance of Ellie Daley as Phil, a calm and mostly silent genius, who ultimately had control over the action of the play. Ellie performed this character phenomenally- her silences were just as deliberate and gripping as her words. 

The rest of the cast were the perfect ensemble, working together to build the relationships between the characters. You understood every dynamic within seconds, and the subtleties of these were never lost. The clear and deliberate colour choices within their costumes only cemented these relationships, in particular the clean white suits contrasting with the deep red of Eve’s costume.

Before the cast had even come onstage, you were aware that you were about to watch something phenomenal

Both Charlotte Kemp as Eve and Anna Devoy as Bryony portrayed characters whose mental states deteriorated throughout the show, and both did so with depth and nuance. It was clear to all watching that time and effort had been put into both physical and character work here. 

The production value of this show was at professional standard. The set was a piece of art, designed by Li-Wen Chen, as a final project for their degree, and it certainly deserves high praise. The deep pinks and reds combined with sweeping sheets encircling the set made it feel like a galley installation, whilst also creating a sense of intimacy within the audience and action. When first entering the theatre, and seeing this incredible creation, before the cast had even come onstage, you were aware that you were about to watch something phenomenal.

The whole production had a distinctively professional feel to it

Overall, it was an incredible treat to be able to watch this performance, as the whole production had a distinctly professional feel to it, and the actors and crew have obviously worked incredibly closely to create a theatre experience for the audience. 

The lighting design complimented this perfectly. In particular, the projection sequence during Phil’s monologue. Phil explains the perfect plan to hide a murder, and, as she does, the circular backdrop is lit up with slightly creepy animations that compliment the narration. This design really showed how set and tech can have a huge impact on the show, whilst perfectly working in sync with the action onstage to create an immersive experience. 

Jasmine Butler

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of Maria Konyelicska . Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to these images.

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