Young cast perform with gusto. Review of The Good Soul of Szechaun, Bristol Old Vic, 7/10
THE announcement by BOVS principal Paul Rummer and BOV artistic director Tom Morris that after a near 30-year gap The Patrons Prize is to be reinstated, gave the spirited young company from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School a further boost in their efforts to bring Bertolt Brecht's complex theatrical parable alive.
The prize enables two outstanding graduates to join the BOV on a six- month contract, and two members of the cast of this play, Emily Mary Smith, and Isaac Stanmore, will be joining the BOV company for the opening production of the season, Wilde Oats.
Led by Faye Marsay's lovely, vulnerable portrayal of Shen Te, a prostitute whom the naive Gods, Elliot Chapman, Christopher Hancock, and Edmund Digby-Jones, discover to be the only truly good person in the drab city of Szechuan, this spirited company set out with great gusto to prove Brecht's theory that true goodness has little chance to survive in modern society.
As with all Brecht plays, there are many more personal complications and politically motivated parallels within the storylines, which director Patrick Sandford and his cast explore and explain with far greater clarity than is often the case.
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Meanwhile, Oliver Lynes moving skilfully from scheming lover to ruined drug addict, Stephanie Racine as his shallow mother, and Ben Callon's water seller, a rogue with a true heart and real concern for Shen Te, left particularly vivid images.