Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Based on the Gospel according to St Matthew, this immensely successful rock musical has been a hit worldwide.
Take a large Company of young adults aged 12 to 19 , representing at least 7 nationalities and cultures and none of them trained singers, actors or dancers, then transport them from Greece and tell them they’re going to perform GODSPELL in Scotland and what do you get? Well, in the hands of the International School in Athens you get a wonderful, charming, fast moving, witty and committed show from an attractive and enthusiastic company who work as one.
Don’t expect RADA trained performances, but do expect to see the emergence of clear intuitive talent. I do like it when companies produce at least a cast list but as this one didn’t I can only identify actors by their characters – and in this case when I apparently rudely refer to “ the girl who…” no offence is intended! I could say the ‘girls who..’ because there was a bevy of beauty and musical talent ‘Sing About Love’ ‘Foolish ways’ ‘Where Are you Going?’ ‘I want to thank you Lord’ particularly sticking in the mind. (Forgive the inaccurate titles!). Enjoyable production touches in a fast-moving show too, such as St John the Baptist using a packet of Kleenex to do the job, Satanic temptations writhing under a sheet, and allowing Jesus a light moment in individual personal ways with the Apostles at the Last Supper.
I suggest it was a mistake that the first two soloists were facing up stage – they could and I think should have be facing the audience but mentally focussing their words up stage because its dangerous to let an audience go unobserved for too long! You never know how their concentration is going to wander if an eye isn’t kept on them! Naturally in a young company of such a wide age group there will be different levels of inhibition, but now the company has discovered that their work is appreciated by audiences the increased confidence this should give them should now result in bolder performances in some cases. The Vaudeville number featuring Jesus Christ and Judas was excellent – guys you can’t go too far with it or have enough fun with it!
These two actors, the black and the white of the New Testament, were very well cast and produced the goods. Jesus Christ who had (as in life) such a key role was compelling and led the Company with commendable assurance. His quiet authority – who needs to raise his voice if he has ultimate control? – was sobering, but the fire was in his belly most convincingly in later scenes.
Judas had a nice line in irony, a good stage presence and his mimetics were elegant and clear. An excellent Company all round – with an uninhibited small young performer in braces (green I think?)whose cheek and sense of humour broke through the thin glass that sometimes separates performers from audience.