Directed by James Robert Carson, last nights performance of The Love of Nightingale at UEA’s Drama Studio, was incredible. From brilliant set-design to fantastic acting, the production was immersive and thought-provoking. It tells the story of two sisters split apart by marriage. When they try to reunite, tragedy ensues, will they ever find their way back to one another, and what will they lose in the process?
I liked the choices when it came to costume design; everybody looked connected and had links. These costumes were clever and made everyone look cohesive and in sync. It added to the strong themes of family and connection in the play. Live music was another great addition to the performance. It added something unique to the show, and I loved the singing. This was an opportunity not only to show off how talented the cast was but to add emotion and feeling to the scripts.
The standout performances were from Jess Lester, who played Procne, and Holly Richards, who played her younger sister Philomele. Procne was acted brilliantly by Lester, with such an heir of elegance and beauty, while Philomele was acted with such innocence and youth and it worked perfectly with her character. Lester and Richards worked so well together, and their relationship on stage was so beautiful. Matthew King, acting as Terus, did such a perfect job of creating his character, equal parts charming, equal parts creepy. It was so exciting seeing the dynamics on stage between the three and I loved how they evolved as the play progressed. The relationship between Procne and Philomele was my favourite, and strong themes of women and family shone through.
There were some difficult moments within the play, such as the screams of the abused Philamele and though they were important scenes, meant to be challenging to watch, I feel as if the same message would have been created without the extreme level they went to in showing her abuse.
The most successful parts were how well-rehearsed the play was and thus, how effective every word was. For a student production, it was flawless, and you could tell how much effort was put into the play by the incredibly talented actors.
The stage design was simple, yet very smart with podiums for the narrators and other characters to observe from occasionally. The design suited the style of a play inside a play, and it was fascinating to be able to see the characters as the audiences within such a simple space.
Though parts of the play were tough to watch, the themes discussed were so important, and it left audience members with the idea of ‘questions’, and I know when leaving the show, I did have many questions and was thinking about the world around me much more.
This show was a brilliant play, with an excellent cast and well worth the watch if you are looking for something inspiring and intelligent.