Mon 13th – Sat 25th August 2012


Lucinda Higgie

at 09:39 on 16th Aug 2012



Without convincing performances, a play about a play skirts perilously close to parodying itself, to turning into a laugh at the actors' expense. Unfortunately, the performers of 'Cut!' have been let down by an uninspiring script that consists of a series of dull, scribbled stereotypes in the place of developed characters.

The exposition is almost jaw-dropping in its ham-fistedness. At one point, the cast of the play within the play are asked by their director to say their name and one interesting fact about themselves. The responses, which include being able to say any word backwards, being half-Danish and being in an electro-punk fusion band, are an example of the glib way in which the play goes about fleshing out its characters. Terence (Frederico Mollett), who uses the opportunity to launch into an inappropriately detailed account of his whole life, remains a cardboard cut-out, the snobbish public school foil to toast and skittles lover Charlie (Robin Carroll), who is, apparently, 'the sort of person who'd touch a nettle to see if it'd sting him'. A conversation between Arabella (Olivia Bowsher) and the director (Murray Adcock) is a similarly clunky exercise in fact-cramming (moreover, the rationale for the lighting in this scene, and the changes in lighting throughout the play are unclear). In this scene we are informed that despite her tough exterior, her parents were dentists, while the director fears that his multiple changes of career and inconsistency 'seems to scare people off'. There were a few clever lines, but building characters through an accretion of listed facts is rarely very interesting or convincing. Even worse, some moments are borderline offensive in their desperation to elicit a cheap laugh: one character's claim that 'coming from Mersey, I'm more used to stealing computers than using them' and another's claim that one actress's 'facial hair rules her out' were lazy.

The performances didn't do much to rectify these faults. Despite his gesticulations, Frederico Mollett's face remains expressionless for the entirety of the play, many of his lines are muffled by his tendency to overemphasise some words and underemphasise others and he gives the impression of still having to think hard to remember his lines. In general, interaction between the characters is fairly stilted: at many points, one character seems to shut off while the second one delivers their lines until they themselves have something to say again. The strongest link was Robin Carroll, who, despite being a bit unnatural in the audition with which the play opens, made a decent fist of an underdeveloped part. Stronger, more detailed, incisive performances are needed to fill in this script's gaps and make up for its weaknesses.


Anwen Jones

at 09:55 on 16th Aug 2012



I have never seen the expression of a white man witnessing the birth of a black baby by his white wife until I saw this play. So I definitely have to give credit to the oddity of some parts of 'Cut' by Durham University’s Hyena Theatre Company. Other than this however, the production was noticeably an amateur performance with little influence on the audience’s mood – a significant flaw within a play which appears to desire to be comedic.

As a whole the concept was mediocre, as were the actors, staging and lights. Good but not great. There was something about the whole performance that felt flat. Like having all the ingredients for a delicious sponge cake but forgetting to add the self-raising flour, this production seemed to have a decent base but no real ‘oomph.’ There were certainly times when a few cleverly written lines evoked a mumble of laughter from the audience – the outburst from Tommy (Barnaby Skerrett) being the main example – but for the most part, the progression of plot and character seemed somewhat stunted and underplayed, making the play seem, unfortunately, a little tedious. The moments in the production where momentum appeared to gather and take hold were relatively short-lived despite the vibrant energy of some members of the cast: namely Charlie (Robin Carroll), who was the only actor of the cast who truly created and maintained a believable role and personality throughout the play, and Eliza (Nicole Tallant) who, despite the ridiculous outbursts her character was made to say, did bring some passion and excitement to the stage.

In fairness, there were a few funny moments – the introduction of Terence (Frederic Mollet) and his llama skin bag to name one – but I’m afraid the poor delivery and expression of most cast members meant, at times, I felt like I was watching a school production with the main characters forced into drama against their will.

Any decent acting ability that the Hyena Theatre Company possesses was certainly quashed by the stereotypical characters and rather un-original script. Perhaps next time they consider taking a play to the Fringe, they should focus on script selection first and work on their expression and authenticity to avoid a repeat of this particular production. More ‘oomph’ next time.


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