Monday, 6 June 2016

Substance & Shadow Theatre Company open 'Festival at Cygnet' with "Silver & Gould" starring Midge Mullin & Nathan Simpson Monday 6 June repeated Wednesday 8 June Festival also includes Running Dog Theatre "Wanna Dance with Somebody" Tues 7/Thur 9 June Players Tokyo "Hecate's Poison" (Macbeth) Wed 8/Fri 10 June Tree Shadow Theatre "Lady Bracknel's Confinement" (Importance of Being Ernest) Sat 11 June James Elston "Krapp's Last Tape" Mon 6/Thur 9 June Jordan Edgington "I am the Gladiator" Tues 7/Sat 11 June Bianca Bertalot "Cinco Coisas" (Five Things) Fri 10/Sat 11 June & Sun & Moon Theatre "Two Gentlemen of Verona" Saturday 11 June 2016

"Silver & Gould"
Substance & Shadow Theatre Company
Midge Mullin is Melvyn Gould
Nathan Simpson is Leonard Silver
Monday 6 June 7.00pm
Wednesday 8 June 8.30pm

An exciting festival of theatre starts tonight at the Cygnet New Theatre in Friar's Gate here in Exeter, tonight. Five theatre companies and three one-man shows will be performing between now and Saturday evening. Every evening this week there will be two theatre shows back-to-back, and on Saturday there will be two performances in the afternoon and two in the evening. A lot to look forward to.

The precise running order is as follows. (Note particularly that Running Dog Theatre will be performing "Wanna Dance with Somebody" at 8.15pm on Thursday - unlike the second act on each other evening's bill, all of which are at 8.30pm)

Monday       6 June     7.00pm     Substance & Shadow     "Silver & Gould"
                                     8.30pm     James Elston                   "Krapp's Last Tape"
Tuesday       7 June     7.00pm     Running Dog                   "Wanna Dance with Somebody"
                                     8.30pm     Jordan Edgington             "I am the Gladiator"
Wednesday  8 June     7.30pm     Players Tokyo                 "Hecate's Poison"
                                     8.30pm     Substance & Shadow     "Silver & Gould"
Thursday      9 June    7.00pm     James Elston                   "Krapp's Last Tape"
                                     8.15pm     Running Dog                   "Wanna Dance with Somebody"
Friday        10 June    7.00pm     Bianca Bertalot              "Cinco Coisas"
                                     8.30pm     Players Tokyo                 "Hecate's Poison"
Saturday    11 June     2.00pm     Bianca Bertalot             "Cinco Coisas"
                                     4.00pm     Sun & Moon                  "Two Gentlemen of Verona"
                                     7.00pm     Jordan Edgington           "I am the Gladiator"
                                     8.45pm     Tree Shadow                 "Lady Bracknell's Confinement"

Alistair Ganley
Artistic Director
Cygnet New Theatre
Cygnet Student Band
On Friday 13 May three of the acts taking part (highlighted above) came to the Cygnet to give a little preview of their performances at a free show (with free food!) Three of the students at Cygnet (which is a training theatre) formed an impromptu musical trio and entertained the audiences between acts with covers of various popular songs. Alistair Ganley (Cygnet Artistic Director) introduced the acts, all of which were very wonderful in their different ways.

First was Sun & Moon Theatre Company and their version of Shakespeare's "Two Gentlemen of Verona". The setting is a university in the United Kingdom (possibly Exeter) in the 1960's. The scene they had prepared for us included some familiar dialogue and soliloquy, and also a very energetic musical number with talented instrumentalists and some wonderful parts for solo voice.

Sun & Moon Theatre Company
"Two Gentlemen of Verona"
Shakespearean theatre with added song and dance

Bianca Bertalot
"Cinco Coisas"
Next up was Bianca Bertalot. In Portuguese, the title of her piece is "Cinco Coisas" meaning "Five Things". Bianca, in Pierrot's pantaloons, appears to have a series of very pertinent things to tell the audience about life (specifically the five essentials for healthy development). Her appearance casts doubt on how sensible or useful her exposition will be. In the event the lecture degenerates into a confusing but hilarious dumb show, somewhat reminiscent of Harpo Marx at his most obtuse.

Bianca Bertalot
Athletic Dance
Bianca donned a clown's nose, helped herself ostentatiously to the food laid out for audience members, and after much prevarication, embarked on her explanation in mime and dance. Bianca is extremely athletic and the dance is very impressive, while at the same time being outrageously incomprehensible. This act requires extreme energy to bring off - energy which Bianca has is abundance, coupled with impressive comedic skill.

Nathan Simpson
Len Silver returns
Last on stage were Substance and Shadow Theatre Company introduced using placards by Substance and Shadow co-founder Rosie Mullin - somewhat in the style of a boxing 'ring girl' dressed in gold lamé. The first contestant on stage was Nathan Simpson, returning to his very engaging character 'Len Silver'. Len is a grasping entrepreneur from Birmingham who first appeared on stage in the Substance & Shadow production "Duplicity" in 2014.

Instantly recognisable
Nathan Simpson is
the West Midland Wiseguy
Leonard Silver
Len now appears to be down on his luck, and sits at home watching daytime television in his dressing gown, reacting to a programme which the audience cannot see. A letter arrives, and Len is surprised to discover that his mother has died, possibly leaving a little something for him in her will. A new character, Len's cousin Melvyn Gould played by Midge Mullin, then joins Len in the next act to watch a videoed last will and testament made by Len's mother.

Midge Mullin is Melvyn Gould
Len phones to relay the news
- in a perfectly mimed telephone call  
(Rosie Mullin waits in the wings)
Melvyn is a very engaging character, gentle and unpretentious. Whereas Len is waiting impatiently to hear what he will get, Melvyn responds to his aunt's words by reminiscing fondly about his happy memories of the woman herself. The disjointed conversation which results, punctuated by the continuing and ultimately disappointing message from Auntie Elsie, is reminiscent of Harold Pinter at his most confrontational.

Reminiscence & Acquisitiveness
perfectly mis-matched

(Midge Mullin & Nathan Simpson)
The bequest, when it is finally announced, could not have been more galling for Len. Between them Len and Melvyn receive only a set of darts - which go to Melvyn.

Melvyn's delight &
Len's disappointment
a telling contrast
(Midge Mullin &
Nathan Simpson)
Inventive as ever Len then immediately begins to hatch a plot to use the darts to take part in Jim Bowen's ITV game show "Bullseye" (which dates the action to the 1980s), with the express intention of leaving with the star prize.

The scene is set. Now read on . . .

Midge and Nathan are on top form, their characters are beautifully conceived by the writers (Midge & Rosie Mullin) and just as beautifully realised by Midge and Nathan on stage. Comic, but realistic and totally believable, Substance and Shadow's new pairing will be well worth a visit.

Below are the official listings from the Cygnet Website, in company order. Viewed either way, this list offers a tempting selection of treats for the week ahead. For those unable to manage all the productions, it will be quite a job to choose between these fabulous acts.

Substance & Shadow Theatre Company
Midge Mullin is Melvyn Gould
Nathan Simpson is Leonard Silver
(Photography: Matt Austin Images)

Cygnet New Theatre
(as part of 'Festival at Cygnet')
Monday 6 June 7pm
Wednesday 8 June 8.30pm
Leonard Silver: Nathan Simpson
Melvyn Gould: Midge Mullin
Tickets: £8.00
Box Office: 01392 277189
Online Booking: WeGotTickets - Mon/Wed
Press Release from Rosie Mullin
Running Dog Theatre
Cygnet New Theatre
Tuesday 7 June 7pm
Thursday 9 June 8.15pm
Players Tokyo
Cygnet New Theatre
Wednesday 8 June 7pm
Friday 10 June 8.30pm
(an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Macbeth")
Tree Shadow Theatre
Cygnet New Theatre
Saturday 11 June 8.45pm
(inspired by Oscar Wilde's
                   "The Importance of Being Ernest"
James Elston
Cygnet New Theatre
Monday 6 June 8.30pm
Thursday 9 June 7pm

Jordan Edgington
Cygnet New Theatre
Tuesdsay 7 June 8.30m
Saturday 11 June7pm
Bianca Bertalot
Bianca Bertalot
Cygnet New Theatre
Friday 10 June 7pm
Saturday 11 June 2pm
(Portuguese: "Five Things")
The 5 basic development needs
of a child represented in dance
Sun Moon Theatre
Cygnet New Theatre
Saturday 11 June 4pm

(set in the 1960s at Exeter University)
Valentine: David Johnson
Julia: Melissa Barrett
Silvia: Morwenna Towns
Speed/Pantina/outlaw: Hannah Clancy
Turio/Lance/outlaw: George Bradley
Lucegga/host/outlaw: Jessica Holyoake
Duke of Milan/Antonio: Emerson Pike
Proteus: Gianni D'Attoma

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