Revolution Society

Tue 13th – Sun 25th August 2013

reviews

Emma-Jane Manion

at 10:17 on 17th Aug 2013

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Written by the winner of the International writing competition run by the Yvonne Arnaud youth theatre, Sarah Power, ‘Revolution Society’ is a funny, quirky little story of three students trying to start a revolution. Although, they’re not really sure why, or how, or against what. And they do concede “three doesn’t really seem enough for a revolution”. However, much philosophical discussion and biscuit-eating leads to them setting up a country in Cheltenham, exporting philosophical advice and modern greetings card. This is a story of frustration and being young, where clichés are handled with deft and wit by Power, a student at Manchester University herself.

It is a familiar idea that young people will reject the status quo. However, the culture of youth, of restlessness and revolution has hit a bit of a wall, a problem Power recognises. Yes, young people are still angry and with an in-built desire to challenge the system. But in the words of the play’s revolutionary leader, James (Dom Male), the system seems “too big and too fucked”. It is pleasure to watch James, Leo (Cameron Manson) and Emily (Amy Lumbach) discuss, argue and try to fathom out the great mystery of the stock market. This could so easily slip into being patronising or grating. But, Power writes naivety with intelligence and humour, communicating perfectly the fear of becoming a cliché clashing with the necessity for young people to control their own future.

With a good script to work with the actors’ job should be easy. Occasionally the flow and chemistry of the ensemble in not quite there, meaning lines which should get proper laughs fall a little short. It just means the play lacks that extra spark. It is a matter of almost; Cameron Manson almost gets the arrogant, faux-intellectual philosophy student right, but is just a little clumsy in his delivery and occasionally, too aggressive. This is not to say our enjoyment of the play is tarnished, but I just feel it could have been even better.

With fantastic attention to detail, down to the cast t-shirts (I particularly liked the Pink Freud one) and the cups they were drinking out of, this is a great production. It is knowing but never cynical, satirising both the students and society. I expect good things from Sarah Power in the future.

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Samuel Graydon

at 11:00 on 17th Aug 2013

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This was the best satire I have seen in a long time. The students of a London University’s Revolution Society allowed for much opportunity for ridiculing, yet, cunningly, the exposition of folly is placed onto everybody – it is not just a lambast against one group’s failings. Both society and the students who oppose it come under from the cynical gun of Sarah Power, whose script is intelligently informed and terribly funny. I was chuckling throughout the entire thing.

There were beautiful touches of comic understatement, which also helped the laughs come. The fact that the society members, who were obviously anti-dominating and unfair corporations, were often sporting Starbucks mugs was a particular highlight.

Even in the acting, a general understatement presided. Occasionally the shouting of Cameron Manson, as the angsty high-minded philosophy student became a little too much, but on the whole nobody built up their part or the jokes, which made the satire even more acute and droll. There were no particularly stand-out performances, but I could say very little to the actual detriment of the acting.

Recurrently, there was a clever play on clichés, and much of the humour revolved around this. The production seemed wonderfully knowing of its reliance upon stereotypes, and as such the jokes did not become unintelligent, lazy or infuriatingly obvious. The jests, and consequently the play, had something of an affection towards the butt of its jokes. There was one moment with “cards for the modern age” which was clearly meant with very good cheer, but even so was just hilarious. I even humbly suggest to the production team that these cards may well be worth selling on the door. I certainly would have bought one.

It was testament to my enjoyment that the hour-long show did not seem to drag at all – I really did enjoy it. And while there may be a few things which needed just a little tweaking, such as one or to jokes which fell a little short of their mark, the performance was very strong. The script, in particular, was impressively good, and I am glad to have seen it.

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