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St Mary’s Theatre Directing Students’ Plays Receive Rave Reviews

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St Mary’s Theatre Directing Students’ Plays Receive Rave Reviews

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Productions by three students on the Theatre Directing MA at St Mary’s University, Twickenham earned rave reviews during the Directors Festival at the Orange Tree Theatre last week.

The three productions, which have been directed by students Dominique Chapman, Evangeline Cullingworth and Samson Hawkins, were each shown five times during the festival at the theatre in Richmond.

All three students are part of the second cohort of the unique Masters course which provides theatre directors of the future with an exciting year-long training based at the Orange Tree, who St Mary’s partners with to offer the degree.

The Reviews Hub’s Richard Maguire describes Dominque’s Precious Little Talent, written by Ella Hickson, as a very funny fast-talking comedy about transatlantic relations that ‘shines as bright as New York’s Chrysler Building’. He also says the play has big ideas but Dominique ensures they are ‘smoothly unpacked through the comedy’.

Regan Harle, from daily online magazine The Upcoming, gave Precious Little Talent four out of five stars and praised the ‘immersive sound effects and narration that takes spectators elsewhere’ while Essential Surrey’s Catherine Bardrick highlighted Dominique’s ‘excellent attention to detail’ in terms of pace and timing and how she ‘elicits fine performances’ from all three actors. A Younger Theatre’s Olivia Gibbs-Fairley says Dominique made a ‘good decision’ in showing the play as her showcase as it ‘feels relevant’ – something she claims theatre needs to be.

Catherine Bardrick also reviewed Samson’s Katie Johnstone, written by Luke Barnes, and praises Samson for ‘eliciting a highly engaging and charismatic performance’ from lead actress Georgia May Hughes and for ‘controlling the pace and transitions’ between scenes ‘beautifully’.

Olivia Gibbs-Fairley describes Katie Johnstone as a ‘raucous rollercoaster’ exploration of what it means to have ambitions and to believe in yourself when no-one else does and the emotional journey the audience goes on speaks volumes about the direction of Samson, who Olivia is ‘excited to see’ what he does next.

Richard Maguire praises Samson’s ‘energetic vision’ and ‘loud and hyperactive direction’ and says the play ‘deserves a longer run’ while claiming Samson ‘has a future’ as a director. The Upcoming’s Marissa Khaos used her review of the play to herald the work of Samson and the young actors.

Evangeline’s In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises), written by Nina Segal, received a four-star review from The Upcoming’s Zakery Dodd, who praises Evangeline’s ‘imaginative staging’ and ‘dynamic production’ while Essential Surrey’s Richard Davies claims she has ‘injected great energy, pace and passion’ into the play.

Richard Maguire summed up the three plays by claiming if Samson, Evangeline and Dominique are the future of the theatre, then ‘we can expect some exciting times ahead’ while Catherine Bardrick says all three productions are ‘professional, sharp and contemporary’, with audiences in for a treat.

Academic Director for Drama at St Mary’s Patsy Gilbert, said, “This has been yet another successful year for our partnership with Orange Tree Theatre and this festival has been a fantastic culmination of the work. The festival, which had over 1500 audience members over its 10 day run, is a wonderful platform for our students Evangeline, Samson and Dominique and we wish them all the very best in their future degrees.”

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