Review: Immaculate

Jaz Hayward is pleasantly surprised by the Drama Barn’s take on the immaculate conception

Venue: Drama Barn
Rating: ★★★☆☆

When I first heard the premise of Drama Soc’s latest play, Immaculate, I’ll admit it didn’t particularly move me. In fact, a modern day retelling of the immaculate conception is quite a bizarre idea.

I didn’t go into the barn with high hopes, but it certainly exceeded expectations.

That’s not to say that the show didn’t have its poor aspects.

I thought my suspicions had been confirmed within the first two minutes with the use of a dramatic chorus to introduce the otherwise comedic play. It was a clever idea and maybe if done differently it could have worked. However, it just wasn’t funny enough, or even particularly informative. When they appeared again, at various intervals, throughout the play, they did nothing but slow the pace. Whether it was purposeful or not, there was a lack of unison between the chorus members towards the end of the play, which just made the section seem muddled and poorly rehearsed.

There were quite a few notable slip ups in dialogue too; something which only an issue due to it being opening night. And though by the end all actors seemed confident in their roles, there was a bit of muttering and rushed speech evident, in the first quarter or so, by several of the cast.

A slight tweaking of the script may have been a suitable choice. There was one cringe-worthy reference in particular, to Friend’s Reunited, which I doubt would’ve been at all relevant to any of the students in the audience.

In spite of this, it was a very enjoyable show.

The cast certainly had superb chemistry, not to mention great comedic timing, and every single performer fit their role perfectly.

I never imagined the Archangel Gabriel to be a toff, but Stephen Hutt’s performance of the role as an Oxford don-esque nerd, made it unquestionably believable.

Jamie Bowman, also, certainly put a new twist on the role of Lucifer, playing him as more of a misunderstood yet lovable loser rather than a villain; no mean feat.

Having seen her in several operas I was also very impressed that Stephanie Wake-Edwards has the acting skills to match her phenomenal voice, though I would like to see her play a different type of role to the chav figure that she’s been somewhat typecast in since Don Giovanni.

Special consideration must also go to Joe Mackenzie, who managed to remind us all a little too well of that one geeky creepy kid at school.

A special mention should also be made that this show was a collaborative effort. All the cast and crew helped out in all areas, and it seems to have paid off. The lighting and setting were relatively simplistic but it fits the show’s theme; that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Director Andy Bewley certaintly took a gamble when he took on the play however it’s so utterly hilarious that you can almost forgive its faults.

So, if you’re not doing much this weekend go see Immaculate. It’s not perfect but it’s a surprising delight.

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