By Yasmin Attwood, Third Year, English
There was a palpable atmosphere of excitement as I sat in the audience of the last sold-out TRASH performance (that really arty showcase). Six short comedic sketches embodying the cultural zeitgeist of six decades is a tall order, but DramSoc definitely pulled it off!
The Exorcist, based on the 1970s film, was the first performance, preceded by a video edit of key pop cultural moments of the decade which set the scene. Trash transformed the horror film into a meta-theatrical comedy, featuring a highly strung director (Leo Hincks) on stage getting increasingly frustrated with the actors and their comedic departures from the script. A scene that epitomized this was when Sharon (James Tudor), donned a green screen costume to move objects around on set to the amusement of faux horror characters and audience members alike who could obviously see the green suit in this live show.
The 1980’s were represented by a Blackadder sketch. The costumes and set design were invaluable in this segment and established the war-era setting, but the strongest part of this production was the actor’s striking similarity to the characters from the Blackadder series. The mannerisms, actions and comedic timing of the main characters all felt very familiar, and I’m sure brought as much nostalgia to many of the parents who came to see Trash as the 2000’s section did to me.
The Truman Show (90’s) was next up, and it also was strong in the way Tom Muirhead was reminiscent of Truman from the film, your average American guy with a white picket fence lifestyle who is blissfully unaware that his entire life is filmed and live streamed on TV to the world. This section was able to succinctly capture the essence of the film, and certain aspects felt strikingly relevant to modern audiences such as the product placement culture, and surveillance culture which have only escalated since the 90’s. Truman’s escape from a world of surveillance at the end was once a hopeful Hollywood ending but may soon be more like a fantasy as the right to privacy is gradually eroding in modern society.
The Trash rendition of The Office had a DramSoc twist, focusing on a fictional scenario where the SU has asked the DramaSoc to fire one of the reps from the committee. Anyone who has been on a committee will be fully aware of the laborious process of communicating with the SU so this was a particularly fun source of contention within this performance. Rosie Carey did fantastically in her role as president, with her Brent-like carelessness and self-interest. The use of filmed confessional sections that were played on a screen added an extra comedic dimension as we got an insight into the petty drama between characters.
I may be biased as I grew up in the 2010’s, but Horrible Histories was my favourite part of the show! From the second I saw Oliver Cromwell (Charlie Warwick), I was eagerly awaiting the ascension of Charles II (Bella de Villeneuve) and his iconic song, King of Bling. The songs were amazing and had the audience singing along. Death (Jamie Watkins) was every bit as amazing as in the TV show. Moreover, comic interventions by Shouty Man (Rory Stroud), and Rattus (Leo Russell) made this section very memorable.
Barbie (2020’s) was the last instalment from this decade sweeping show. The costumes were as fabulous as you would expect, and the lighting team did an amazing job with the funky dance lighting (the lighting was stellar throughout!). The writers did a really good job of changing the storyline so that instead of Ken slowly discovering the patriarchy in the real world as in the film, he goes down a ‘far-right rabbit hole’ online and discovers Andrew Tate. Stereotypical Barbie (Beth Miles) and Stereotypical Ken (Joshua Simango) gave especially good performances, and the dance battles were excellently choreographed making this whole section very fun to watch.
Trash brought together disparate media from across the decades and reappropriated them into this comedic, self-aware, show that was thoroughly enjoyable to watch. Every single member of the huge cast of this show did an amazing job and I can’t wait to see what DramSoc does next!
Featured image: Katie Riley
Which performance do you think looked the best?