“An exquisite evening of entertainment and stirring drama across a range of genres…

Sunday the 26th of November marked a special rendition of the inter-collegiate showcase, Heaven and Hell, performed at the Assembly Rooms Theatre by Foot of the Hill Theatre Company in collaboration with a diverse range of college theatre groups. An exquisite evening of entertainment and stirring drama across a range of genres, the night was put on in aid of the Graham Martin Bursary Appeal, which aims to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds into theatre careers.

The performance began with excerpts from upbeat and engaging musicals, including that Hollywood mainstay ‘La La Land’, followed by a quaint scene from the C. S. Lewis staple ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. The actors were enthusiastic and dedicated. Staying in role throughout, the cast drove the action, blending effervescent singing with sterling acting. Thomas Rainford and Talitha Hookway led the charge in quality of their singing, with demonstrable experience and resolve. Others such as Emma Clarke and Oscar Downing lent each piece a restorative energy and drive. This was truly an acting showcase to be remembered.

After an interval, the second act consisted of a ‘Beetlejuice’ medley and an assortment of classical drama pieces, such as key scenes from ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Doctor Faustus’. It then took a hard swerve into a scene from ‘The Crucible’, before finishing with a performance extract from musical ‘The Prince of Egypt’. The Shakespeare was impressive. The famous lines were delivered with a renewed urgency, bolstering the richness of the original play. At times the Faustus piece was less nuanced, occasionally wanting a softer tone or a more measured delivery, but was nonetheless a strong effort. The Miller was striking. Indeed, to move from Hamlet’s cosmological ponderings to stark social commentary was a brave choice achieved largely successfully.

The production was kaleidoscopic. It moved, dizzyingly from the soft and warm to the harsh and desolate, from the cutesy C. S. Lewis children’s tale to the vaunted heights of Early Modern drama, taking in an eclectic range of tones in between. The answer to the obvious question of difficulties in temperamental shifts was found in the show’s charismatic host. The show is hosted by Hatfield first-year International Relations student Josh Brookin, who provided a Craig Revel Horwood-inspired flamboyancy to the night. Unapologetically ebullient and scathing in equal measure, Brookin mastered the stage, serving as the binding glue for what may well have otherwise been a somewhat disjointed production.

A truly powerful performance, the entire cast and crew had a lot to be proud of – and they certainly did justice to the gleaming legacy of Graham Martin.

By Dan Bavister

Photo Credits: Foot of the Hill Theatre Company