Bringing us four short scenes, Puck’s Players – consisting of Bill Poulton, Phillip Lee and Aaron Thaddeus Lee – were able to exhibit outstanding versatility as performers, displaying skill in areas ranging from slapstick to Shakespeare, in a memorable graduate show that will hopefully lead them to interesting careers.
A cleverly entertaining balance between silliness and wit
The three were extremely likeable as themselves between scenes as well as when playing their different characters, personal favourites being their portrayal of Lucy and Mina in their first scene, a ten minute version of Dracula, the two female characters memorably shown by the actors putting wigs on their hands, resulting in a great deal of laughter. This first scene was one of the highlights of the piece, providing an excellent and good-humoured retelling of Bram Stoker’s classic. The cast were even able to receive laughter out of an accidental mix up of ‘newborn’ and ‘new bride’, comically breaking character to play on the audience’s laughter with ‘I don’t think they noticed.’ Aside from being funny, the scene was engaging and easy to follow, as well as featuring fine characterisation and storytelling from the whole cast.
Following this was a short extract from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Thaddeus Lee as Macbeth and Lee as Macduff in their fateful battle scene. Here both actors gave strong performances, bringing life to Shakespeare’s script even whilst demonstrating their impressive ability in stage combat. Despite this, it seemed hard to take yourself away from the light hearted comedy of Dracula and quickly focus on Shakespeare, especially as it was quite a short scene, meaning the general spotlight seemed to be on the stage combat rather than the contents of the scene itself.
Any potential awkwardness between scenes was easily erased by the use of one or more of the cast standing in to introduce the next piece, meaning the show flowed by easily and held the audience’s interest. The three had great chemistry reflected in their comedic timing, giving confident performances and ably interacting with the audience throughout the show, most notably in their last scene when they were searching for a ‘mun’, which led to an unusual but hilarious sort of dance or ritual where they ‘presented’ an audience member to a piece of paper. The sheer ridiculousness of this particular scene further displayed the versatility of these three performers as they managed to find a cleverly entertaining balance between silliness and wit, joking that they were ‘all about the hard hitting material.'
With their refreshing humour and ability to create a range of enjoyable characters, Puck’s Players gave a strong performance and it would definitely be worthwhile following them in their future endeavours, especially if they continue to perform together.