Thu 4th – Fri 26th Aug 2011


“‘Obviously there’s a place for Shakespeare, Stoppard and Sophocles, but we wanted to do something different.’”





Troupe, funded by CUADC (Cambridge University Amateur Dramatics Club)


Student drama should be innovative, exciting, and inventive. However, all too often it becomes the opposite – a predictable set of shows performed repeatedly by the same people. Troupe, funded by the CUADC (Cambridge University Amateur Dramatics Club), is determined to inject the wonder back in to student theatre, and are bringing their particular brand of storytelling to this year’s Edinburgh Festival. ‘We’d had enough,’ explains Hannah Laurence, a founding member of Troupe. ‘Obviously there’s a place for Shakespeare, Stoppard and Sophocles, but we wanted to do something different.’

Babushka centres on an old Russian widow working in the Hermitage who falls in love with one of the paintings there; when it is sold at auction, she is driven to do anything she can to get it back.

‘The play is devised, which means that each actor not only learns and performs his or her lines, but was there to create them’, says director Andrew Brock. This sense of unity certainly comes across in the piece, where actors move seamlessly between train guards, museum curators, wealthy aristocrats and chandelier salesmen, as well as coming out of character to narrate directly to the audience. The play is accompanied throughout by original music, which was composed alongside the creation of the play. Somehow, it

works, and works brilliantly, bringing everything together to form a beautifully crafted piece of theatre.

Troupe’s ethos can be summed up in their mantra ‘a rich theatre by little means’. The original production of Babushka in the ADC Theatre in Cambridge was created based on the premise that the production company would buy nothing by way of costume or set;

they could only use what they could find, create, or imply. The effect is a delightful jumble of recycled props and costumes, perfectly complementing but never overpowering the focus of the play. ‘We believe that people have a limitless capacity to delight in imaginative storytelling,’ says Brock, ‘so we don’t see any reason to put flashy props or set in their way.’

The production inspires everything from laugh-out-loud characters to tragedy and tears, all with the backdrop of Babushka’s homemade set and handmade feel. Expect to be spellbound from start to finish.

*****, The Tab, Cambridge – ‘intricately, artistically constructed... a very ingenious piece of theatre... a delight’

Varsity (The Red Shoes, a previous Troupe production) – ‘Imaginatively staged and brilliantly conceived…it artfully married nostalgia and innovation.’

Babushka was the Winner of Best New Play in Cambridge in The Tab’s Theatre Awards.

Admission: £7.50(£6.50) – £9.50(£8.50)

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