Its quite tough to know by what standards to judge performances in Edinburgh. There are professional actors here doing shows with big budgets, drama students, university groups, kids and amateur groups all operating on a shoestring. It seems only fair to make allowances according to the level of experience, resources and ambition.
Centre Stage Theatre Company is, I believe, a university group. They have chosen to stage Noel Cowards play The Vortex, the only one in which he tackled the issues of homosexuality openly and not in witty code as in some of his other plays. Though it deals with a serious issue, it still sparkles with Cowards extraordinary wit and style.
But not here. There comes a point when making all the allowances in the world cannot excuse what went on on that stage last night. There was no program available, so I dont know who directed. I only assume someone must have because they had obviously told the actors what gestures to make on each line (or rather, half a beat after the line). All the actors without exception shambled about, misinflecting, downward inflecting, dropping cues, bumping into furniture, and looking at the audience when they werent involved in the dialogue. Think Acorn Antiques. But much, much, much worse. A character actually excused herself to answer the telephone before it rang. By the second act, there had been one laugh, a phenomenal achievement with this script. Its akin to doing The Life Of Brian to stony silence.
Okay, these guys are amateurs, but have they (especially their director) never SEEN a play before. Do they not realise that lining nine actors up in a straight line to do a scene does not lend itself to naturalism? Do they not realise that acting at any level needs you to understand what youre saying? Do they not realise that they need to have some kind of energy, some kind of desire to be heard and seen? Do they not know that you should cast actors who look vaguely appropriate for the parts? When one of the characters was described as frightfully good looking never, in the history of audiences watching plays has there been so much disbelief being suspended.
The ethos of this company was best summed up when one actress gave us a particularly hammy and flouncy massacring of one of Cowards best exit lines and someone in the lighting box tried to start a round of applause. How mind-bogglingly, pathetically, naffly lacking in self-awareness is that. No matter how many allowances one can make, the bottom line is these people are charging you money to watch this, and as consumers you should be warned.
Never, ever, under any circumstances put these daughters (and sons) on the stage (any stage, any time, any place) ever, ever again, Mrs Worthington.