Thursday, 21 June 2018

REVIEW: Daisy Pulls it Off at the Charing Cross Theatre

Usually, when I see an invitation to an actor musician show in the inbox I dread answering it due to seeing so many lazy and unfitting productions who try to pull this style off. Within this production it’s stunningly staged and cleverly used by Phyllida Crowley-Smith who is responsible for the musical staging, I just wanted more! There were many moments they laid all their cards on the table and the instruments were bare with the cast on stage; this was beautiful, and the talents of the cast were showcased immensely. However I craved more! So much music was used throughout, but I wanted to see it, it was as if they were teasing us. With the style it’s so much nicer to actually see it rather than it be hid, especially after dangling it in front of us. 

It’s hard to believe this production has been picked up straight from a drama school showcase; yes, it is a young cast but they play it with an energy and maturity that is what we desire when seeing a professionally produced show, which is somewhat lacking in some bigger commercial shows we’re seeing around at the moment. So, to see this enthusiasm is refreshing and fulfils my desire to see people enjoying themselves and playing on stage. 

There are problems with the writing, the plot wraps up very quickly at the end in a sort of pantomime style which threw me off completely and it became farcical. This piece, handled wrongly, could become like this very easily but this production manages to avoid this which is commendable. Until the end however; this was sort of unavoidable due to the writing but it just didn’t sit well with me. 

The style of writing leaves the backdrop and characters feeling very 2D. Carefully navigated by the director, Nicholas Scrivens, and cast this is mostly dealt with responsibly but in the end there are elements in which this happens and makes me feel unemotional for characters that we should be routing for. 

In saying this, there are some stand out performances that remanded truthful and engaged throughout. 

The cast had a hard job, the characters don’t have much substance due to the writing and style but the performances were feel rounded and filled out, I just wish the writing could give them more opportunity for real truthfulness, particularly the kind showed by Marina Papadopoulos in her monologue close to the end. It was a beautiful moment and was the thing missing in the body of the text. 

Marina Papadopoulos has the hard job of carrying the show as the protagonist Daisy Meredith; she gave a quirky and sustained performance as Daisy. 

As her best friend, the geeky and odd Trixie Martin, Katy Ellis performs a truly brilliant comical performance and the character is just wonderful. 

The stand out of the night is Persia Babayan-Taylor as the jealous Sybil Burlington, out to get Daisy from the moment she steps foot on the school grounds. It’s a hard task to take on a bully, making them real is a challenge. You have to make the audience like you in some way because no actor wants to be booed at the curtain call! She does this with grace and manages to find real truth and personality in the fairly empty writing of the character. 

As her side kick Monica Smithers, Gemma Evans also gives a funny and memorable performance. 

I have mentioned a few performers here, but this piece has been made into an ensemble show. With each actor playing a vital part in the production. This meant that the music, by Niall Bailey, is played with such beauty and precision. 

This being the first gradating year of the Actor Musician course at the Guildford School of Acting, it showcases that this is a drama school not out of the loop with the current industry and this opportunity for the students is invaluable and proves to be a success. 

I’m unsure whether this play has a place in our current society, the messages are relevant to the current divide from the government between the rich and the poor, but it doesn’t offer anything else than pointing this out. Allowing us to laugh at it but walk away afraid that the only way we can get around it is by a posh school student admitting she’s in the wrong. Maybe we’d be a better country if this happened, but it lacks in making it really current.

This being said, it is a funny show and the well exacted performances will certainly have you in stiches throughout the evening. This is your chance to see some really fabulous emerging talent in a well-staged production, one not to be missed! 

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: H5 | Price of Ticket: £20.50
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