Anne-Marie Garrett spends an evening with Durham’s most talented classical performers at DUCT’s Classical Acting Competition.

DUCT’s annual Classical Acting Competition was an astounding showcase of the plethora of acting talent within Durham in the intimate setting of Hild Bede chapel. Nine finalists were picked to compete for the title of ‘Best Classical Performer of 2019’ and win the DUCT Classical Acting Competition shield. The range of performances was sensational and enthralled the audience thoroughly.

Beginning the evening was the talented Rose Galbraith, who captivated the audience with her humorous and charming performance of Rosalind, drawing us into the scene without any use of props. Followed by Helena Baker, who contrastingly gave a powerful and melancholy performance as Imogen from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, with a captivating use of the space, unnerving the audience as she held the knife to her throat. Henry Bird’s commanding voice as Anthony, from Julius Caesar, echoed brilliantly throughout the chapel as he perfectly used the acoustics to his advantage. Grief and the mother’s anguish of Andromache was portrayed captivatingly by Georgia Onslow, who explored a range of emotions throughout her monologue and whose use of a scarf as her son caused great discomfort throughout the audience.

Jacob Freda perfectly captured the cunning and amusing nature of the bastard Edmund, in King Lear, as he taunted his new status to his brother. Vankshita Mishra portrayed a vulnerable and naive Juliet, before she drinks the poison, unhinging the audience. Imogen Usherwood’s soft voice depicted a dedicated and docile wife, captivating the audience with her brilliant vocal abilities. Tom Jacob’s Achilles was portrayed with a terrifying coolness as he condemned thousands to their deaths. Finishing the evening was Ginny Leigh’s Hamlet, with an interesting play on gender, as she dealt with the complexities and emotions powerfully within such a short moment of time.

Although there must only be one winner, all of the nine finalists demonstrated outstanding ability and convincingly performed a range of powerful emotions and praise much be given to all actors who participated in the competition.

The judges, Dr Sarah Miles, Jake Murray and Sam Lumpton, all commented on the remarkable abilities of all actors involved and commended the confidence and professionalism of their performances. The judges had a remarkably hard decision after such a brilliant exhibition of theatrical talent but ultimately concluded, awarding runner up to Rose Galbraith and the title of DUCT’s ‘Best Classical Performer of 2019’ to the much deserving Helena Baker.

Much praise must be given to the organisers of the Competition, namely Francesca Chaplin, for the professional and smooth running of the competition and the efforts in facilitating such a wonderful display of Classical Acting, which the audience was thoroughly captivated by throughout the course of the evening. The comperes for the evening, previous winner and DUCT President, Harry Scholes, and Vice President Ioannis Karellis, hosted the evening with confidence and ease, providing the necessary context and separation between each piece.

I look forward to seeing the finalists in future productions and am excited for what the competition may hold in the future in showcasing the talents of fine actors.