Review: ‘Dear Brutus’

On the 14th of March, the Rocket Theatre Company presented Dear Brutus by J.M. Barrie. Like Peter Pan, Dear Brutus explores the themes of adventure and magic and it can be considered a comic fantasy for grown-ups, a ‘Neverland’ for adults. The plot: A puckish host, Lob has invited a group of strangers to his mansion and when a mysterious forest appears, all of the guests are invited to enter and walk down the paths they could have chosen earlier in their life.

The set is dazzling, and it is clear that the team has put in a lot of effort to make the setting enhanced. In the second act, the team delicately transforms the stage into a mystical forest where they manage to make some ivy fall from the church’s balcony. The ivy is illuminated by small lights that put forward the idea of moonlight of Midsummer’s Eve. This fanciful realm of a possible second chance brings the audience into a different dimension of a world that has entirely changed where everything seems possible. This disseminated an exciting and pleasing feeling of hope in the audience.

All of the actors were remarkable. According to the director, Eleanor Thornton, there is a great harmony between the cast members and this is witnessed on stage too as the rhythm is perfectly measured. All of the comedians seem to collaborate and support each other during the performance making it very agreeable to watch. William Dodd manages to really adopt the personality traits of his character, Will Dearth, immersing himself completely in the role. For example, every time Lob says something, there is always a change in the rhythm because he has such a dramatic and extreme temperament that modifies the pace of the action. Elenor Kris is very funny and the energy in her delivery is very communicating and entertaining for the audience. The enigmatic butler, Nav Aithani softens Lob’s extreme behaviour by dedramatizing the situation as he warns them about going in the woods but in a rather nonchalant and moderated way making him a likable character to the eyes of the audience.

The costumes handmade by the producer Monica Jones are grandiose. All of the women’s dresses are radiant and colourful which sets the enchanting ambiance of the play. The range of colours, blue, red, green and white described the spectrum of different themes and moods conveyed in the performance. In the second act, there are numerous flowers in the woods of different colours which again suggests endless possibilities.

The performance is so engaging and interesting because it is dynamic. The comedians are never static, they constantly move on the stage. Orlando Riviere who plays the role of Mr Purdie, a young intellectual barrister revealed his athletic talents during his scene with Chloe Elliot who plays Mabel Purdie in the second act. It is really impressive the way he does somersaults and cartwheels while delivering his lines. In the same act, Rian Mullan comes in with a whistle and jumps, bounces, hops and skips around the room and in between the rows with impressive frivolity communicating a joyful feeling to the audience.

The music that is playing in the background during the second act marks the collective amnesia upon the characters in the wood which reminds us of a Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare when their memories are modified by spirits and fairies. This melody reinforces the spiritual aspect of the play and appeals to the sense of hearing to bring the audience closer to what the characters are experiencing.

Overall, this performance of Dear Brutus was successful, and it is evident that the actors have put a lot of thought in the building of their characters. It denunciates with a lot of comical elements that humans should take greater personal responsibility for the way their life goes; an inspiring message suggested by an inspiring cast.

Dear Brutus is being performed on the 15th of March at 8pm in North Road Methodist Church.

By Anne-Victoire Mancret

Image: taken from the Rocket Theatre Company’s Facebook page

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