Dramsoc’s newest production, Little Women, was met last night with the loudest of applause.
The play, two and a half hours in run time, tells Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel with as much class, and humour, as Alcott must have intended. Shauna Young, acting as the younger Jo, made a wonderful debut in her performance of the iconic boyish author.
Young picked up perfectly on many of Jo’s mannerisms. From mimicking the stance of male characters, to clutching at her skirts, and even the way she sits, Jo’s representation in this adaption felt natural and believable. Alongside Young was Alice Keenan as Beth, Peyton Tuomi as Meg, and Jon De Barra as Laurie, creating the memorable foursome. Between their chemistry on stage, including kisses both awkward and romantic, the emotional interactions between the characters left the audience either laughing or sighing.
With a very simplistic set, and making the most possible use out of spotlights, the play was half-narrated by the older Jo, played by Aisling Whelan. Not only did Whelan narrate separate scenes, but director Aoife Murtagh, and the rest of the crew’s decision, to have other characters monologue their own thoughts, and sometimes their letters to one another, was an ingenious way to involve the audience into the more intricate details of the play, from the birth of Meg’s twins to Beth’s illness. The props on set were used to their advantage, with Laurie’s library quickly becoming Jo’s writing study; the crew has to be commended for their quick changes between scenes. Though there were some noticeably empty glasses passed around, making it a bit awkward for the audience to watch actors fake drink non-existent wine, the props were otherwise used as naturally as possible.
The romance in this play was surely felt, along with the sadder aspects of Little Women. Emma Robertson’s performance as both Aunt March and Sallie Gardiner provided much needed silliness from the seriousness of other scenes, and her facial expressions and portrayal of both characters gave them a more ridiculous quality than normally seen. One of the most surprising aspects, or perhaps unsurprising, of Little Women is Amy’s secret crush on long-time friend Laurie. In this adaptation, it feels quite sudden, though Amy’s former jealousy of Jo is certainly evident. However, Laurie and Amy’s joy is clear. Jo’s love for Professor Bhaer is also an aspect of the novel that readers don’t expect, and their hidden-away kiss (behind an umbrella!) at the very end adds a surreal quality to their very quick, turn-around relationship.
Though there were a few hiccups, all went incredibly well, and the actors, namely poor Laurie clasping his mouth in horror and also laughter, played off forgetting their lines with a level of humour. The use of spotlights and a detailed, though minimalistic set, brought the play together and helped to bring the audience inside the character’s minds, even for a second. And though yes, there were some obviously hollow props, and dresses with zippers that seemed to refuse to stay where they were supposed to be, all the actors stuck to character, which has to be respected, and it also added a level of professionalism to the performance. This adaptation has to be commended for not only the talent of the actors involved but the standard of humour that the actors managed to achieve during the play. So, for anyone floating around campus over the next few days, be sure to catch the last few showings of Little Women at 7pm on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd of December!