Skip to main content

The Flash Festival Review 2017 (including course honours) held at the Looking Glass Theatre (Hazelrigg House), St Peter's Church and Salvation Army Hall, Northampton

For my fourth year running I was back for the University of Northampton's BA Actors Flash Festival, a place to see the graduate actors do their stuff in their end of course dissertation performances. This year sadly for the first time fellow Flash buddy Mudbeast76 was unable to join the journey, however, our 2016 new recruit The Real Chrisparkle was back with a vengeance and this year covering all fifteen shows. These fifteen shows would also allow me to hit sixty separate Flash shows, pretty much all of them very much loved.


The venues this year were mostly similar to 2016 with St Peter's Chuch being used one again (with enhanced staging area) and one in the altar space. Hazelrigg House once again offered three different standard rooms for performance and two spaces in the glorious cellar used again for a couple of performances. Finally there was one new venue, for one performance, the brilliant and also excellently well used Salvation Army Hall.

However with no further ado, onto the awards!

Best Technology Use

Like last year tech use was a little underwhelming (or almost not existent in some), however, it helped to narrow it down to a few. However having said that, there was only one really in it. Tremendous use of sound, music, lighting and some incredible video footage expertly edited, left only one to choose.
Out of Mind Theatre's Broken

Best Physical Theatre

This one was a much trickier decision as there were a collection of inspired pieces of work on display. Some brilliant routines and pieces were devised for Merge Theatre's A Sinner Kissed an Angel and Tangled Spines The Powers That Be opened with one really special rountine. I could also have been very tempted to give it to Out of Mind's Broken as well with a couple of brilliantly prepared scenes. It also very nearly went to Lotus Theatre's Being A Man for some excellent use of minimal space.
However it had to go somewhere and I think for the way it used it to tell the story more than any other show, the simultaneous movement pieces left this award going to only one show.
Zakiya Theatre's A Matter of Race

Best Set

Sets were once again generally simple affairs, rightfully allowing the cast to do their stuff instead, however, a few put a little more work into it as ever with ideas and preparation. Merge Theatre's A Sinner Kissed an Angel created a nice depiction of home and bar with simple pieces of furniture. Out of Mind once again deserves a mention with its impressively large set. Sample Theatre created an interesting set space rather than set, and Can't Stop Theatre was really simple in its empties chess board, but very clever.
However, there was one towering beast of a construction which it was clear a lot of work had gone into (interestingly a large part of the work of a previous graduate) and therefore if only for that magnificent column/arch, there is only one winner
Stalagmite Theatre's G.M.H

Best Individual Scene

A few scenes in Lotus Theatre's Being A Man could have won here, while the epic opening scene of Tangled Spines' The Powers That Be might have. Also, the amazing closing sequence of Stalagmite Theatre's G.M.H might also have. I might even have chosen the opening piece of Imagine That Theatre's Exposed, but it might have been very different when you saw it.
However there was probably only one show that this was going to come from, however which scene? I think actually for me it has to be the sequence where Ben Hampton silently mouths the words and performs the actions of the other characters unsighted in such a brilliantly prepared scene hardly if ever bettered in Flash.
Out of Mind Theatre's Broken


Best Play

This year it wasn't difficult in any way to chose the best play, for me there was one complete package above all others. However, the other places were interesting to form. So here be in reverse order my top five shows.

Fifth place for hitting the ground running from an incredible opening sequence and then never shying from the tough subject matter and theme (fondly remembered by me from the original book).
Tangled Spines Theatre's The Powers That Be

Fourth place for not only a brilliantly performed collection of stories but also an educational fascinating piece
Stern Mystics Theatre's Click Here

Third place for a brilliantly rehearsed and created piece on a tough challenging subject
Zakiya Theatre's A Matter Of Race

Second place for not only a truly brilliant piece but one which educates, entertains and stirs the emotions and leaves you truly changed by the tales it tells.
Lotus Theatre's Being A Man

First place and never in doubt. Five performers at the very top of their game in a piece that grips from the start to the finish via it superb tech, physical theatre, the best-filmed sequences I have seen at Flash and from sixty shows seen, one of the very best overal Flash creations.
Out of Mind Theatre's Broken

Best Female Performers (Flash Festival shows)

The Flash Festival again changed my picks over the best performers and for the first time I felt that in both male and female categories each of my three favourites were different from those during the whole course.

Third place for a gently captivating performance which was unshowy and perfectly controlled was Jen Wyndham in Tangled Spines Theatre's The Powers That Be

Second place for a brilliant performance of Ruth Ellis, bringing every emotion to the fore during the play was Olivia Noyce in Merge Theatre's A Sinner Kissed An Angel

First place for surprising me in every possible way with a seize the moment performance within a show of so many brilliant performances was Victoria Rowlands in Out of Mind Theatre's Broken

Best Male Performers (Flash Festival shows)

This year the male performers have been the best-balanced collection ever. Often in the past, the best have been very, very obvious.

Third place for a masterclass of comedy above and beyond perhaps the quality of the show it was in was Lewis Hodson in Imagine That Theatre's Exposure

Second place for one of the strongest solo male performances I have seen was that of  Javier Melhado in Lotus Theatre's Being A Man

First place and responsible for more than a tear or two was the incredible performance of Ben Hampton in Out of Mind Theatre's Broken

Best Female Performers (Full course)

These are the ones like the lifetime achievement awards, the main event!

Third place for incredibly brilliant performances during the whole course, including her magically funny Dromio in The Comedy of Errors and her heartfelt Alice in Vinegar Tom, is Helena Fenton

Second place for being consistent and stirring throughout, most especially in the truly powerful scene in Pornography is Beck Fowler

First place and perhaps one of the most consistent performers I have seen throughout the whole course, from the first time I saw her as the most incredible Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, onto the foul-mouthed old lady in Pornography, the comic classic creation of She Echos and an equally amazing Flash performance as well (and a dab hand on lighting as well), it has to be Jessica Bichard

Best Male Performers (Full course)

Third place could almost be given to this person for one single scene in She Echos as he takes apart a fellow performer in one of the best fight scenes I have ever seen. However, he didn't stop there as he was brilliant as Tybalt (ironically being taken apart himself in that) in Romeo & Juliet and a powderkeg in Pornography. Therefore this place clearly goes to Liam Faik

Second place through more quiet consistency across the whole course, including his quite amazing presence as Mercutio is Lee Hancock

First place and perhaps the most quietly convincing I have seen, busy creating great characters in an incredibly subtle way. The perfect character actor if ever the BA Actors had created one is Chris Drew.


And that is that another year complete (with the exception of the London Showcase). Go forth folks and conquer the world!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Dracula (or A Pain in the Neck) at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

Regular readers of this fair blog will be aware that I am not overly keen on pantomimes, although I always at this time of year end up inexplicably in the vicinity of more than one (and this year I am destined for six I believe!). So, despite Dracula (or A Pain in the Neck), not officially being billed as a panto, that is very much the vibe of this Playhouse Theatre adaptation of the Bram Stoker classic.

A company of actors (well, aristocrats) in the 1920s have assembled to put on a little show, their own version of Dracula (or something like Harker of Whitby meets the Count) for us, the "willing" audience. Our host is Sir Simon Smee (Simon Rye) who will play Jonathan Harker during this little performance.

What follows is for the best part a slightly loose version of the Stoker classic, which does definitely at times get a little complicated in the way it tells the story, not made easier by the playing of characters playing characters explanation. However, this is, beyond i…

Review of Aladdin at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Pantomimes have mostly held that special place in my heart, alongside William Shakespeare plays of all things, in that as a theatre completist, I tend to tolerate them, rather than always enjoy them. As well as tolerate though, I also appreciate when they have been performed extremely well. They may be very different beasts, but I acknowledge that both have that intense challenge for their performers, especially with panto and dealing with them pesky kids in the audience.

Aladdin though handles nearly everything with so much success that, even this hardy panto-sceptic had to concede to really rather enjoying it. It is true that 90% of the enjoyment for me was coming from one direction, and that was with Kev Orkian's rather incredible performance as Wishee Washee. Rarely have I seen a performer steal every scene, and indeed a show, to such as extent (and this is allowing for the fact that pretty much everyone else in this is also pretty good as well). His timing is exemplary, his i…

Review of The Jungle Book at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The Jungle Book is an age-old classic, made far more famous by Walt Disney than any other original writer going by the name of Rudyard Kipling. Mention the title to many people and they are more likely to say "oobee doo I wanna be like you" than say "oh, yes, the book by Kipling". Therefore to present this classic tale for the stage and dispense with all reference or hint to that ingrained music and create new music of your own is dangerous. However, that is before you witness the brilliant new work of Joe Stilgoe, with lyrics by adaptor Jessica Swale, and you realise very quickly you are in very safe hands. These are catchy, foot-tapping tunes of the killer variety.

However, Jessica Swale's adaptation is far from a procession of nifty tunes, this is a bold, clever and still very relevant production for 2017 of the now 123-year-old novel. Perhaps strong enough to live without those tunes if needed, this is no musical adaptation. Sweeping clever snatches of humo…