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AS Drama: Review

I thought I’d post this here for anyone wanting a little inspiration or wondering how to write a review for Drama. This was what I wrote in preparation for my exam and I got very high marks for this section. Obviously don’t copy this because you’ll get in trouble with the exam board but I’m done with it now so feel free to use it as revision or something. (I also just wanted to store it here so I could delete it off my computer). 

     In April 2014 I saw Spring Awakening in the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s Bute Theatre performed by The Richard Burton Theatre Company. Spring Awakening was written by Gary Owen, directed by Ellen Mcdoughall and designed by Hattie Gent. The pace and intensity of the drama was effectively captured through the use of fragmented scenes paired with a naturalistic style of acting. The drama brings Frank Wedekind’s originally risky and notorious play up to date and focuses on the effects of sex and internet pornography on young teenagers whose lives are already at risk. The main theme of the play is sexuality and this shown through the play’s content and dialogue. Upon walking into the theatre rock music was being played and the traverse stage, set with a see-through box no more than two meters square, was lit, making us part of the production as soon as we walked in. Due to this setting I expected the play to be very minimalistic using little props, yet I also expected it to have an anarchistic and rebellious feel to it because of the music being played. Michael Kelligan said, “Ellen McDougall’s direction sweeps everything along at a good pace, interspersed with quiet moments when some of the young people reveal their sad histories.”
     In the opening scene of the play Simon is attempting to reprimand his student Wendy all while she is trying to get him to notice her very exposed legs. Simon’s character is feeling very awkward as he is trying desperately to ignore her advances and change the subject. He very effectively communicates this as he looks everywhere except at her legs, often glancing from side to side or up towards the ceiling. This change in focus emphasises the awkwardness he feels in the situation. Vocally, Simon’s tone was fairly frantic and at times frustrated suggesting that he is finding it hard not to look at her. This scene tells us that Simon is attracted to Wendy, as his fidgeting and the clear distressed expression on his face tells us that her presence affects him greatly. Also we see that his will power is weak as eventually Wendy convinces him to look at her. We feel sympathy towards Simon here as it is obvious that he is trying to be professional and desperately trying to ignore Wendy but eventually she overpowers him.
     Also, the actor playing Wendy in this scene had the difficult task of portraying a character that was younger than her while also trying to be seductive. She achieved this through her clever physicality and vocal placement. Through most of the scene she stands with her weight on one leg while the other is positioned slightly in front and bent at the knee. This brought attention to her legs and as she shifted her weight every few seconds it emphasised to us as an audience that she was using this body language to attempt to gain the attention of her teacher.  Also, when looking at Simon the actor would tilt her head downwards and look up at him from under her eyelashes while twisting slightly from side to side as a child might. The twisting of her body and the way she looked at Simon emphasised how innocent and impressionable she is as technically she is still a child in being a fourteen/fifteen year old. However, in contrast to this, the placement of her leg and her seductive and playful tone of voice suggests to us that she is trying to act much older than she is and the innocence in the way she looked at Simon suggests that she is looking for Simon’s approval. This shows that Wendy’s character is manipulative as her innocent yet playful and seductive manner eventually overpowers Simon. We feel no sympathy towards Wendy here as she seems manipulative and her innocence seems forced as part of her manipulation of Simon.
     We see a different aspect of Wendy’s character when we see her in the ‘classroom’ type setting with two other girls and Simon. At one point in these scenes the actress playing Wendy had to portray worry as if something was troubling her.  When her character was feeling this the actress would be stood away from the rest of the group, often on the outside of the box while the rest stood inside the box. This made her character seem isolated from the rest of the group, suggesting that she does not feel comfortable or does not know how to communicate her issues to others. Also, she would look away from the group as if she was trying not to draw attention to herself and her facial expression was one of anger and worry. Also, although she did not speak much during these moments, when she did speak her tone would be defensive and angry. This suggests that she was trying to hide her feelings from the rest of the group suggesting that her character may be slightly shy and insecure underneath her confident exterior. We feel slight sympathy for her in this situation as it is obvious that something is upsetting her while she seems to get no sympathy from the other characters on stage.
     Lastly, the actor playing Malc’s dad had the challenge of playing an abusive father who was in the middle of shouting at his wife and son. He depicted this very well as his facial expression was always malicious and angry. Also, his tone of voice changed throughout the scene as at times he would be very angry and he would shout at the other characters but at other times he would speak calmly but with a very sinister edge. This gave depth to the character and suggested an element of manipulation to his character. When shouting the actor would look down on the other actors and stand very close to them, often shouting in their faces. This made the character seem in control and suggested that he had more power than the other characters on stage. He also made sharp gestures with his arms to show his anger but when speaking calmly his movements would be more controlled and less grand, making him seem more sinister.  From these acting choices we see that the character has a bad temper and is often manipulative, we also see that he is a bad father and this gives us some insight into Malc’s life and why he acts out.
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