An original comedy by George Bearpark, The Knight Who Smells of Sunflowers opens next Wednesday. Following the story of a GCSE drama production that goes horribly wrong, Bearpark’s piece will undoubtedly bring back some harrowing memories of those who survived school productions – an experience that it’s likely most of the cast will have endured themselves.
I had the chance to get a preview of the show in rehearsal, just days before they are due to open, and spoke to director and writer, George. He had to say of the show: “Even though I’m somewhat biased I think the play is worth watching because it blends comedy and farce with a meta-narrative, whilst also dealing with those small ‘childish’ issues like fancying your friend and getting sucked into your parents’ arguments… that are actually, as the transition to university from school proves, timeless. It’s also a great play for multiple viewings due to the varying and unpredictable actions of certain characters.”
He’s not wrong: the scene I got the chance to see shows the opening of the play, and the effects that Glenn’s (a gorgeously uninhibited Will Shere) determination to ruin the show have on the rest of the characters. Keeping the show going alongside him are Clyde (Will Hankey), Johnny (Joe Pound) and Katie (Danielle Garlick), all of who put on an excellent performance of uncertainty and ‘awful’ acting. It’s a real accomplishment that the whole cast create characters who are bang-on fifteen years old, given the small gap between that and their actual ages – watch out for this especially in Emma Catt’s performance as bossy Head Girl-type Lindsey. The audience of parents should prove a good laugh too, most notably Amanda DeBruin’s hilariously catty portrayal of protagonist Rory’s (Jonathan Clark) overbearing mother.
This is the second year running that Theatre Group’s Freshers’ Show has showcased an original script – after 2013’s Happily Ever After met mixed reviews, it’ll be interesting to see whether the production hits the mark this year. That said, farcical comedy is a genre that the company have pulled out of the bag time and time again over the last few years, so it’s a reasonably safe bet that The Knight Who Smells of Sunflowers won’t be an exception to that rule. With a large cast made up entirely of newcomers to the society, there will undoubtedly be some real talent to watch out for in future Theatre Group shows.
The Knight Who Smells of Sunflowers will be performed at the Annex Theatre at 7:30pm from the 19th-22nd November. Tickets can be reserved here or bought on the door.