Review: Caucasian Chalk Circle at the UEA Drama Studio

You’ll struggle to take two steps at UEA without seeing EXODUS somewhere. UEA drama’s third-year production always draws attention, and this year was no exception with the Caucasian Chalk Circle and Ella Dorman-Gajic’s face at every corner. The thirteenth-century parable by Bertolt Brecht tells the story of displacement and survival under a new rule.

Ellas’ emotional performance as Grusha commanded the audience’s attention to convey the unforgiving plight of motherhood. Alongside Charlie Douglas, as Simon Chachava, the pair presented a believable fraught romance in a time of war. Katy Maloney, as Arkardi Chedze, was a stand out performer, her ethereal voice effortlessly projecting the story around the round. The stage design beautifully complimented the play, creating an enclosed environment to immerse the audience within the performance. The baby, Micheal, was voiced by Katherine Edwards, which it took me embarrassingly long to realise – I’ll blame the enthralling plot for my ignorance. Her committed performance had the audience fully believing we were witnessing the growth of a baby into a boy.

I must admit, the second half threw me. I could blame the interval, my deadline addled mind, or Brecht’s complex vernacular, but regardless, Shem Jacobs’s performance as Azdak dissipated my confusion. The good judge, bad judge, refocused the play with an impressive commitment to the role – blood seeped through his leggings. I hope he’s since recovered.

There was the occasional technical issue, with mic feedback crackling in the background, however, I’m sure these minor opening night problems will be resolved by the next show.
Speaking to Ella, she said; ‘I think it went really well and we got some amazing feedback – as well as a standing ovation which I was very pleasantly surprised by! However, I definitely think our best is still to come’ She noted the plays’ relevance to modern day; ‘It encompasses a mass group of people displaced due to war and the plight of refugees and the sacrifices they have to make based on their economic wealth.The fact that the story is a parable in the 13th-century shows how timeless these issues are and how people are still dealing with these problems in a very similar way.’

I’ve seen many plays at UEA but this was by far my favourite. The overwhelmingly collaborative performance created a believable sense of a community, stemming from the bond between the drama class of 2019. If you haven’t already, see the final shows.
Tickets can be found here.


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