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Review: Richer Mix Aurora, 10 May 2019

The independent and IPG-nominated (Diversity award 2019) publisher Aurora Metro held an event of play readings at the Oval House Theatre on Friday 10th May. Now, it was obvious I was going to attend, as I currently work part-time for the company and worked on typesetting all five plays that were being showcased, but I didn’t expect the need to write a review. I was expecting a nice night out, maybe sell a few plays and talk to some people. However, I was so impressed with how the readings and performances went, that I felt I had to write a review about it and encourage anyone reading this that reading plays and drama for fun is something that isn’t promoted enough. The evening was introduced (and organised with Ellen Cheshire too) by Cheryl Robson, director of Aurora Metro. The play readings then began.

Keith? or Moliere Rewired by Patrick Marmion is a new play which recently premiered at the Arcola Theatre. This is a comedy about Brexit Britain and the lies we tell ourselves (and each other). Superbly written, the excerpts we saw were directed by Margaret Coldiron of East 15 Acting School, and was acted by students at the school. They presented some excellent snippets of the chaos of the story and I think the students did a fantastic job of getting across a lot of the absurdity through their performance. A thorough well done, but special shout-outs to Harry Dean (Keith) and Jess Lima (Anna) who I thought did an outstanding job.

From Shore to Shore by Mary Cooper with MW Sun is a play which has recently enjoyed a tour in the north of England and judging from the evening’s performance, I certainly missed out. Drawing on both writers’ interviews with the Chinese community in the north of England, the story weaves three stories in a beautiful production. Written in a mix of English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Hakka, the play is a super blend of Chinese community in England. The simple staging of the readings were exceptionally effective, and we were thrilled to have the touring cast with us in the room. I could not pick a stand out from this cast– they were all equally fantastic.

Triptych: Three Plays for Young People inspired by the Art of Paula Rego by Fiona Graham is a collection of plays which capture the imagination. We were treated to an excerpt of Crivelli’s Garden inspired by the painting of the same name, and it follows two young women deciding on their future paths; sort of a rites of passage, and on the way, they are inspired and advised by two very powerful women. I was privileged to see this in rehearsal, directed by Rosamunde Hutt (expertly, and who also acted in the excerpt). It was truly a powerful piece of theatre, and I think all the performances were amazing, but I have to shout out to Bernadette O’Brien, who as Catherine, was regal, charming, feisty and mischievous. Wonderful.

Next Lesson by Chris Woodley was one play I was really excited to see. Discussing the controversial Section 28 (which banned schools from promoting homosexual lifestyles) in schools over a period of time, including both teachers and students. When I read the play, it was a very emotional moment and I was so glad that I was involved in the typesetting. We were treated to two actors who had been in the professional production at the Above the Stag Theatre and we were not disappointed. Both Florence Odumosu and Stephanie Wilson were electric in their performances playing two characters each, but for me, it was Stephanie who stole the entire evening – her performances were believable, heart-breaking and well, just stunning.

Cinderella by Matt Beames was the final performance of the night. A modern retelling of the fairytale sees Cinderella as a shoemaker, which is a really interesting take on an often-performed tale. We were treated to two actors performing their socks off when the Prince comes to the shoemakers to fix the broken shoe that Cinderella’s sisters had broken. A wonderful performance by Lucy Parkinson as Cinderella left me wanting to see more – and she has a beautiful singing voice. I was thoroughly impressed with this excerpt and it was great to see the words which I’d only read on the page come to life with two fantastic, young actors.

The night finished with a brief panel discussion with all of the playwrights, and it was super to listen to the questions and how the guests responded. Many thanks to all who took part, who attended and to Aurora Metro for publishing some wonderful drama texts.

If you like what you have read, then please do consider supporting me and my foray into literature and writing by buying me a coffee here. You can also check out my professional website here. Thank you for reading.

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