No Peace on St Jude – written and directed by Gabriel Meadowcroft
This play was a strangely ethereal yet compelling tale of a tight knit community set on the fictitious remote island of St Jude (the patron saint of hopeless causes). The production was sensitively and assuredly directed by Gabriel and testament to his hard work, vision and creativity. The inciting incident is the arrival of Dr George Montgomery, an American doctor, who has come stay with his cousin, Evelyn, to rest and recuperate on the island. Milo Findji played George as a modest and sensitive man, gradually won over to the care and love of those wanting to protect and heal him. To begin with we are not sure precisely what he is running from, although his spell on the island binds him irrevocably to its community. The tale at times is almost picaresque in the form of one of the protagonists, Dennis, a loveable roguish drunk with hidden artistry and deeply felt passions which ultimately destroy (or free) him. Dennis was played with charm and humour by Ollie Southwell, his gentle Irish lilt adding to the warmth, and later, pathos of the character.
Bethany Rose-Michael, in the role of Evelyn, created by turns a curt and yet supremely kind character whose occasional frustration is born out of deep concern as she guides and supports the vulnerable folk around her despite having her own story of woe. Tommy, the irascible, and at times amusingly tactless, pub owner was acted with verve and energy by Lorcan Read. The elderly couple Gladys (Isobel Kelynack) and Dai (Nicko Lawrence) provided some light relief with Isobel’s portrayal of the gossip hungry Gladys, perfectly captured, and Dai’s “Eeyore” like misery that we later learn, rather startlingly, is due to a terrible event he can’t erase from his memory. The final character we meet is the outsider Paul Lambert, wonderfully played as a hard nosed pushy business man by Adrian Groenewald.
The play was staged on a minimalist set adorned with very effective images (designed and created by Adrian Groenewald) to set the location and era of the play. Evocative lighting and sound helped to give a mysterious and otherworldly feel to the scenes. At times I wondered if the whole story was in fact set in a kind of purgatory reminiscent of Sartre’s No Exit. Were the characters in fact hopeless causes doomed to stay on the island forever? The play certainly gave food for thought about the nature of freedom, choice and dealing with one’s demons.
What is astonishing and wholly praiseworthy is the fact that Gabriel and his team have worked entirely independently on this project from inception to final performance and exemplify all that we would hope for in RGS (and Tormead) students; motivation, being proactive, imagination and dedication. Congratulations to all cast and crew (Mirko Hristov on lighting and Alex Mann on sound) you should be extremely proud of your achievements! Well done Gabriel.
Ms N McClean