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Home > News and Events > ‘A Monster Calls’ – Review

‘A Monster Calls’ – Review

10 Feb 23

A Monster Calls was performed by our Year 10 and 11 drama students in our Seckford Theatre this week, to sell-out audiences and tearful standing ovations! The story of Conor, a 13 year old boy struggling to come to terms with his mother’s terminal cancer, took place on an uncluttered, minimalist stage, tackling loss, relationships, forgiveness and mental health, and our audience sat still in their seats gripped by the unfolding story and stage production throughout.

Exploring complex issues the play links make-believe and reality through Conor’s interactions with a Yew tree monster who shares a series of fable-like stories which ultimately seek to force Conor to acknowledge his emotions, mostly his fears about his mum’s cancer, ultimately about her inevitable death. With a very simplistic stage and purposely minimal props in place, our Monster hung menacingly at times from ropes on stage that had been worked into forming and representing the tree. Those ropes also represented various other things throughout the play, manipulated to suggest a car steering wheel, seat belts and swings; it was the simplest yet most effective communication by reference that the audience immediately recognised and became familiar with throughout the play – and it made the production all the more beautiful.

The stage constantly housed the production’s ensemble, seated either side on white stools; they worked with one another and the main characters to suggest to the audience different elements of each scene through body movements such as mimicking holding backpacks in school scenes to passing objects to our characters to represent different situations within scenes such as making breakfast or drinking coffee from a cup handed to them from the on of the ensemble. The tones and colours worn by all the actors were mostly muted in shades of pale blue, beige and white, while the beautifully choreographed scenes filled with coloured lighting, very simple brightly coloured accessories for key roles in suggestive scenes when fables were told, and accompanied by growling atmospheric audio that served to reinforce the feelings pouring from the stage.

The back wall of the stage held projected images that again were incredibly subtle and simple, but yet reinforced the movement of the scenes and details that needed to be remembered and recalled as the story progressed; from the clock in Conor’s Grandma’s lounge to the digital time display of 12.07 when the monster visited him, whose reference became painfully clear as the play came to a close.

Our actors were tender, emotional and passionate, one of the most excellent examples of physical theatre, while our audience were enthralled and completely captivated as the story travelled towards what they undoubtedly knew would sadly be the end in many ways. The final scene of the play unfolded as did the audiences’ tissues, as they were treated to the most beautifully passionate and well executed final moments of Conor’s Mother’s life while lying on a real-life hospital bed in the middle of the stage.

Our actors can be incredibly proud of themselves, as can all those involved in the production, it was a feast for every sense, a beautiful emotional roller coaster of a ride not only for those watching but undoubtedly for those in the play. Congratulations to everyone on a magnificent performance.

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