With Tom Stoppard’s celebrated talent as a playwright, I had high expectations of Joseph D’angelo’s version of one of his many plays. It did not disappoint. From start to finish, Rough Crossing had the audience in fits of giggles. The piece maintained a light-hearted and enjoyable tone, whilst being performed professionally and to a very high standard. On initial entry to the Drama Barn, the warm, inviting lighting and well constructed set was highly effective in creating the illusion of this rather bizarre cruise ship.
The play follows writer, Turai (James Wood), and an eccentric director, Gal (Josh Welch), as they attempt to complete their musical comedy ‘The Cruise of the Dodo.’ Whilst out on deck, the two directors witness their lead actor, Ivor, confess his pathetic declaration of love to his co-star, Natasha – performed admirably by James Bowman and Georgina Wilmer. This rendezvous is also seen by Natasha’s fiancé and composer of the musical, Adam (Sam Hill). The plot then follows a hysterical attempt to reunite the distraught musician with his true love, by convincing him that Ivor and Natasha were rehearsing a badly written additional scene to the play. Meanwhile, James Esler brilliantly portrays the character of the slightly clueless steward, Dvornichek, from whom Turai hilariously pleads with throughout the performance for a simple glass of cognac. This portrayal of the chaos of writing and rehearsing a production, along with the ingenious innuendos and incompetent staff, make this DramaSoc production one not to be missed!
Although not a huge amount occurs in terms of plot within the space of the two hours, there are few dull moments whilst watching Joseph D’angelo’s direction of Rough Crossing. You cannot help but become immersed within Tom Stoppard’s witty wordplay, brought to life by these very well selected actors. The performers kept brilliant comic timing and worked excellently as a group, playing off each other’s roles. It was immediately clear that certain actors had spent a lot of time perfecting this. Although, at times, the plot was difficult to follow, the performers created a very amusing – albeit slightly chaotic – second half.
Each character was well developed and we were presented with the very successful portrayal of six unique and enormously likable personalities. Throughout scenes where characters had little to say (or sing), each actor remained perfectly in role. I frequently found myself drawn to the actors in the background of the scene, where the performers successfully developed their characters through responding to the foregrounding action whilst in role. Sam Hill, James Esler and Josh Welch particularly stood out in constructing their characters through background miming, repeatedly provoking much laughter from the audience.
Rough Crossing is an adeptly directed, well performed piece with some great little surprises thrown in. Despite the terrible weather, I left the Drama Barn feeling elated and willing to watch it all over again. Fantastic!