After spending my Thursday evening completely engulfed in the story of a warrior queen, I can safely say that Minotaur Theatre Company’s Boudica was phenomenal. I arrived expecting excitement, courage and rebellion, and was not disappointed; the team of actors, directed by Priya Appleby and Thomas Guttridge, really delivered.
Atmosphere was built through the actors, the space and the design. My heart started pounding when doors slowly opened to reveal Jess Lester as Boudica, Nancy O’Meila as Blodwynn and Alex Hayes as Alonna, all stood in powerful stances, lit from below. The music was intense and spooky, credit to Lighting Designer Marguerite Vernet and Sound Designer Eavann Mallon; something screamed QUEEN to me. Synchronised chanting and stomping made for a very exciting representation of battle and conjured up a feeling of anticipation. In one critical scene, a wounded Roman soldier was carried on stage with the words ‘DEATH TO ROME’ etched into his skin. Lizzie Brown’s makeup magic shone here as the mere sight of the wound made me queasy – it was scarily realistic.
It seemed that the Directors had chosen to use the audience as a tool within the play – an extra character if you will. In one scene, Katherine Edwards plays a bereft mother and addresses the audience as if crowd members. She cries out ‘Why are you just staring?’ which made me feel like a passive onlooker at the devastation before me. In a monologue delivered by Erin Clancy as Gaius Suetonius, the lights shifted from the stage to the audience as in an interrogation. Then the lights bled into a deep red and you knew that things would turn nasty.
Battle was brought to life and the threat of the play felt real because of the team’s remarkable efforts with combat training. The grunts, the cries, the rolling around on the floor – I was astounded by the immensely realistic violence involved. I felt myself flinch during Boudica’s scene of torture which involved some awesome lighting effects and a whip. It’s necessary that the terror of the play be presented realistically; this way the audience are able to feel the fear, the anxiety and the power exerted, and the company certainly succeeded in this. This production showcased the immense talent of the members of Minotaur Theatre Company and I feel everyone should be very excited about what they’re planning next.