Thursday, 29 January 2009

The Graduate - The Customs House, South Shiel

The Graduate by Charles Webb
& the motion picture by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry
Adapted by Terry Johnson
Director: Adrian Lloyd-James
Reviewer: Ian Cain

The Graduate is a
powerful rites-of-passage tale of sexual enlightenment, youthful disillusionment and one young man discovering who and what he really is. Immortalised for the silver screen in an Oscar winning iconic movie starring Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman in 1967, it has since become a Hollywood classic. Tabs Productions have created a stage adaptation that is equally as stylish and sophisticated.

Back home after graduating in a blaze of glory, young Benjamin Braddock seems spaced-out by his success. Family and friends are celebrating, but not Ben, much to the confusion and bewilderment of his proud parents. When the boozy and seductive Judith Robinson reveals her all, Ben quickly succumbs and the pair begin a torrid affair. However, things get complicated when Elaine, the Robinson’s pretty teenage daughter, enters the scene.

Grant Orviss gives an impeccable performance as Ben Braddock, skilfully mastering the sexual inexperience and gaucheness of his character. Orviss bears a slight resemblance to John Simm from Life On Mars and he will, undoubtedly, become a bright new star in the near future.

Karen Henson’s interpretation of Mrs Robinson is sensational. Undaunted by predecessors that include Anne Bancroft, Kathleen Turner and Linda Gray, Henson’s Mrs Robinson alternates between man-eating tigress and playful kitten. Her lithe, graceful movements and purring voice contribute further to the feline analogies.
Heather Saunders effectively conveys the naivety of the prim and proper ‘Daddy’s girl’ Elaine, and other notable
performances are provided by Michael Sherwin and Susan Earnshaw as Ben’s parents. John Hester, Sarah Wynne Kordas and Mark Huckett provide successful supporting roles, too.

A stunningly simple and extremely effective set, designed by Sarah Wynne Kordas provides the backdrop for the action and it is cleverly transformed into several differing locations throughout the piece. Director Adrian Lloyd-James is to be commended for his ability to add pace to certain scenes without seeming to rush them and, conversely, slow other scenes down without making them feel sluggish and drawn-out. This technique allows the more comedic elements of the piece to sit comfortably with the dramatic.

The result is a compelling and worthy piece of theatre that stands the test of time and provides relevance to a new audience who may not have seen the epic film version.

The Graduate runs until the 30th Jan then goes on tour
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