Infringement Festival 2016: 4th night review

*Note: Our coverage of Tuesday night covers Trojan War, Wake, and Alcohol Assumption and Other Effects, so they are omitted from this review.
The fourth night of Infringement was bookended by some serious performances, varying from the odd comedic beat to the raw and the disturbing. Both of the plays reviewed here were great examples of student writing, acting, and directing, and it was a genuine pleasure to watch them.
The first block of the night consisted of ‘Hard Rock Kids’, written by Issie Patterson. This fifty minute loving tribute to rock anthems and grunge life suffered somewhat from some inconsistent acting, but a clever script that built on itself and a boost in momentum towards the second half of the play elevated it to a standout performance of the evening. The play began as a kind of ‘slice of life’ about four members of a band lounging around a house in Sudbury. John Cavan and Hannah Martin delivered some standout performances, and their natural chemistry balanced out Max Auwaeter’s quick and at times clipped delivery.
It was clear that all four were comfortable sharing the stage, although often it was the one on one scenes between the characters that seemed the deepest and best realized. The script, written by Issie Patterson, was quite polished especially towards the latter half, with numerous pop culture references (complete with a pretty killer soundtrack throughout) and recurring jokes that tended to be funnier the second time around.
The set was also quite welcome, as it came fully furnished and complete with a full drum set. As the play’s stakes intensify, the characters stop being caricatures and start having complexities that makes them more relatable to the audience. Mike Tucker also had a notable little scene as the play’s ‘villain’, the drug dealer Greg. The play balanced a bittersweet but realistic tone, especially at the end, but ultimately embraced its rock roots with Martin counting off the audience to end the show. Overall, ‘Hard Rock Kids’ did not disappoint.
The second major play of the evening was ‘The Waiting Gentlewoman’, written by Mark Foster. This was a very different beast from the show that came before it, as it delved headlong into the issues and anxieties of modern relationships. John Sandham and Abby Borron portrayed an incredibly bitter couple in the midst of the worst fight of their marriage. The couple had a phenomenal back and forth, with an acidity that was as believable as it was distinctly uncomfortable. Foster’s script was appropriately sharp and biting, with plenty of quick jabs and counterattacks between the leading pair. As the play wore on, their confrontations grew more and more hateful, as the audience watched their relationship eventually crumble under the pressures of work and their own idiosyncrasies.
Genny Dow made up most of the comic relief as a sort of awkward audience surrogate who gets continually implicated in their fights. Her eventual snapping at them was quite satisfying, as our sympathies towards the struggles of these two very flawed individuals began to wane towards the play’s end.
The resentments and jealousies that Gentlewoman put on display served as a stark portrait of an unhealthy relationship, and both Sandham and Borron delivered what could very well be the strongest performances of the whole festival. ‘The Waiting Gentlewoman’ evokes some really terrible feelings, but it does it in a compelling fashion.
Tonally, both plays were actually quite dark, featuring violence, drug abuse and an instance of sexual assault. They complemented each other quite well, and yet were distinct enough in both tone and content to make both entries memorable. I hope to see both plays up at the ‘Best of the Fest’ on Saturday.

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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