Like a great first date, SUDS’ production of Unveiling and Dozens of Cousins was intimate, barefoot, and endlessly charming.
The two Vaclav Havel plays were seamlessly double-billed, possibly because they both featured the same characters: a performative and paternalist couple and their quiet guest, Ferdinand (Helena Parker).
Unveiling, the quick-witted first instalment, saw Vera (Lucy Burke) and Michael (Alex King) desperately trying to impress Ferdinand with everything from pompous interior design to sordid details of their sex life. Dozens of Cousins served as a coda-like ending that showed how the characters developed later in life.
Handsome director, Joel Hillman, masterfully staged the plays in an intimate space that was flooded with light. The audience encircled the performance and the actors engaged with them directly. The proximity played to the strength of student theatre, and drew focus to the actors and the absurd qualities of the script.
The performances themselves were equally wonderful. Burke1 sparkled with a graceful confidence and brought incredible range to her sultry role, particularly in the play’s climax. King also charmed the audience with his smooth voice and impeccable comic timing.
Parker2 did a superb job as Ferdinand, reacting to and driving the tension as time went on. Similarly, Harriet Lugsdin shone far beyond the scope of her minor role as the waiter in Dozens of Cousins. Her use of vocal and physical comedy was spot on, and her stage presence was exemplary.
If we had to pull teeth, at certain points in the play the tension could have been heightened. However, the great performances and visual gags carried the play and worked nicely towards a fulfilling climax.
The final product was fun, serious, lighthearted, and entertaining. It was not morbidly self-serious but displayed artistic ambition nonetheless. We were certainly aroused by the sophisticated humour and stunning performances in this luscious double bill. What a lovely evening!