On the 7th November, the audience at Medina Theatre were in for a treat as three Island schools took to the stage as part of the ‘Shakespeare Schools Festival’. This year Binstead Primary, The Island Free School and Medina College all participated in the event performing; ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, ‘Macbeth’ and ‘The Taming of The Shrew’.
Opening the show was Binstead Primary School with their performance of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. The whole cast performed to a professional standard staying in character and maintaining a strong energy the whole time keeping the audience engaged. The young cast handled the hard Shakespearean language well, making sure they projected their voices. When some of the cast struggled with the lines everyone showed great teamwork by helping them through and continuing with the performance.
The ensemble had a huge role in the performance with each person staying focused, making every movement meaningful and fully committing to the character they had to play. The narrators, Annabelle S, Heidi S and Jessica S carried the piece with their clear, strong voices making sure the audience understood the story. Ollie O’N and Tani B played a convincing Benedick and Beatrice showing their hatred towards each other before accepting their love. Hero was played by Esmae G who had brilliant acting skills when she suddenly fainted at the altar when Claudio, played by Jack C, violently rejected her.
‘Much Ado About Nothing’ was a brilliant performance by Binstead Primary School. It was obvious how much hard work had been put into the performance and how passionate all of the cast was about performing.
Up next was The Island Free School with their performance of Macbeth themed around World War One and the Suffragette movement. Macbeth was played by Sam S, leading the cast with ease and a highly convincing Scottish accent (making many of the audience believe he was actually Scottish). He was joined by Ada K-S playing a conniving and manipulative Lady Macbeth. The three witches (Francessca T, Robyn C and Chloe B) were a powerful and supernatural trio whenever they were in a scene and Zara M was highly memorable in her role as the Porter, just the right amount of comedic and crude. The main ensemble body were focused and professional, they all were committed to the integrity of the show and did their complex scene changes and movement sequences with ease; it was as if they’d performed it a thousand times. Not only was the story told professionally through acting, but also through props and costume. The ensemble used planks of wood and lanterns to create various different locations including the trenches, a table/coffin and a wood. The witches were stylised with thoroughly impressive makeup and wings which seemed to symbolise a raven, a bird synonymous with death. This performance was highly engaging with a unique theme that showed ‘Macbeth’ in a new light.
Closing the show was Medina College with their version of ‘Taming Of The Shrew’. The company are always very ambitious with their themes and this year was no different, setting Taming of the Shrew in the wild west. I was skeptical at first, as were many of the audience members, about this choice. Surprisingly, however, it fit very well; enhancing the story rather than taking away from it. The main cast drove the story extremely well, handling the difficult Shakespearean language with ease. Lyra S brought the stubborn Katherina to life, alongside the equally talented Leon R as Petruchio. The pair were well balanced forces and so worked well together as the main characters. Bianca (played by Rachel A) and Lucentio (Bethany B) lead the subplot with ease and confident characterisation. All of the main cast had a remarkable stage presence and had excellent chemistry together; clearly a well cast production. The entire ensemble worked with an immense amount of concentration, with no one breaking character even for a moment. They created swinging saloon doors (something I was thoroughly impressed by) and mirrored characters actions in duologues which massively helped the storytelling, especially when working with Shakespearean text. The cast managed to show a travelling scene by using a conveyor belt like sequence, with props such as inflatable cacti and mountain tops. This was accompanied by Nathaniel C as Hortensio, using coconuts to create the sound of horse hooves, making this scene very entertaining and a highlight of the whole evening. The performance was highly engaging and comedic.
Overall, the three casts were extremely impressive. Thank you to the Shakespeare Schools Festival, the teacher-directors and the casts for creating a pleasant evening of theatre. Well done to all!
Review submitted by Ella Gregory and Abbie Revert