THE STAGE REVIEW

 

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ARE YOU REALLY TRYING TO SEDUCE ME MRS ROBINSON?

The Graduate, Maskers Theatre Company, The Nuffield Theatre, 24 - 28 Jan

 

A dark romantic comedy famous thanks to its 1967 screenplay, The Graduate centres on Benjamin Braddock who is seduced by the infamous Mrs Robinson only to then fall in love with her daughter Elaine.

 

It's probably worth pointing out now that I haven't seen the film, so no insightful observations on the parallels between stage and screen. But then there shouldn’t really ever be pre-requisites to enjoying a show and I can only presume in this instance there was. As a piece of standalone entertainment this production left me desperate for a tad more substance.

 

Despite solid performances from the entire principal line up, most failed to genuinely convince the audience causing much of the production to fall a little flat. The generous audience did its best to invigorate some dynamism but there were too many instances of seemingly never-ending scenes – almost as though the gear stick was stuck in second.

 

The talented Miriam Roe, however, really did shine. Her completely believable portrayal of innocent Elaine coming of age raised the calibre of the show from the moment of her mid act one entrance. Perfectly suited to the role, she was the one performer who really took the audience with her through her character’s myriad of emotions.

 

Saucy Sarah-Jayne Wareham had the snooty bitch and naked sides to Mrs Robinson down to a tea but what seemed to be missing was the side Benjamin was supposed to find so irresistible. The main man himself, Matt Bulmer as Benjamin, gave a competent performance forgiving the odd accent slip. His skilful understatement of some of the comedy, however, was perhaps a little too subtle for the Nuffield audience.

 

What the show lacked dramatically was almost compensated for technically. The towering revolving set had great impact, allowed for swift scene changes and made clever use of the space. Although the lighting could have perhaps done more to help break the monotony of some of the scenes, effects such as car headlights pulling up outside the hotel added a real professional touch. The original and quite haunting soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel was also a plus.

 

It won’t go down as the most memorable thing I’ve seen - recalling it all to write this two days later was hard enough - but it certainly wasn’t a clock-watcher.