Great Expectations Part One - Thursday 30th November and Friday 1st December 2017.  Start time 7.00pm.

Tickets on sale from Main School reception now.

"Join us for the first half of an epic journey through the greatest story ever told. The tale of Pip, Charles Dickens' mighty "Great Expectations" will straddle the two ends of this academic year. Part One of this two-part adaptation will be performed next week on Thursday 30 November and Friday 1 December in the Main Hall at 7pm. (Please note the earlier than usual start time). Part Two will form our Trinity Term drama production in July 2018. Lose yourself in the interlocking destinies of some of the most celebrated characters in English Literature, brought to life by a huge and eclectic cast drawn from students in every year group in the school and with a record number of teaching staff mining their thespian talent! This promises to be a very special evening of live theatre."

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The Importance of Being Earnest

It takes a particular level of skill to conjure up a balmy summer’s day in the Home Counties on a freezing December night in Blackburn, yet that is precisely what the cast of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ achieved on December 1st and 2nd in the Main Hall. Oscar Wilde’s witty and acerbic play never ceases to amuse and the pace of Ben Ventress’ production built perfectly.

Theo Roberts set the scene with style as Algernon Moncrieff; a young man enjoying the freedoms of youth and wealth, whose wit and affable nature warmed audience and characters alike to him. James Henaghan was equally engaging, and the interplay between the two was a delight to watch. As with any good comic double-act, it was particularly entertaining to watch the two develop as more was revealed about their friendship, with Henaghan’s intense sincerity contrasting perfectly with Roberts’ puckish sparkle.

Anyone wondering where, precisely, they may find the Northern Powerhouse need look no further than Lady Bracknell, in the form of Wendy Askam. Her authority, issued with a sparkle in the eye, exuded style and it was particularly impressive to see a member of staff integrated flawlessly into the cast, which was predominantly made up of members of the Sixth Form. Mrs Askam’s authoritative, commanding delivery was perfect comedy: her classroom must be a wonderful place to be!

Then, of course, came the young ladies. Mariam Goorani-Nejad, as Gwendolen Fairfax, exuded the manners and enthusiasm of her age, along with a generous helping of wit, while Kate Newborough’s Cecily Cardew was hilariously sharp in her idealism. Their performances were most outstanding when they played opposite each other, first as friends and then as rivals, whilst retaining their outward manners.

This adaptation was, simply, hilarious. Wilde’s wit was allowed to speak for itself; the pace of delivery was so appropriate that even the famous one-liners were delivered as fresh and original. Theo Roberts, in particular, had the pace and confidence of a stand-up comedian, whilst retaining the elegance and mannered delivery of late-Victorian London.

Mention must, here, go to Kyle Wells-Stonehouse and Annabel Harvey, whose comic timing was used to perfect effect as Lane and Merriman. Their reactions as servants was reminiscent of the droll wit of Jeeves, and a very funny addition to the action, particularly during Cecily and Gwendolen’s rather waspish afternoon tea.

Equally hilarious was Seb Roberts who, as Canon Frederick Chasuble, created such an affable, adaptable clergyman that he shone in what could have been a more minor role. His benevolent nature and understated responses were, again, perfect examples of comic timing. Together with Samantha Hepworth as the restrained and somewhat prudish Miss Prism, they added a warmth and additional lightness of touch which was very well received.

This was a pleasingly intimate, in-the-round performance which certainly warmed a winter’s night and should be remembered as a real success for Mr Ventress and the entire cast and crew.


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