As soon as the applause ended for what I felt had been an interesting, if somewhat unusual hour and a half’s theatre, I pulled my jacket on and headed for the door. ‘Where are you going’, my friend called; ‘This is only the interval!’. And to my surprise and dismay, she was right. Konstandin Normandeau packed a lot of promise, and after reading the Writer’s note, I was looking forward to an amusing, satirical production, full of self aware humour and storytelling. Unfortunately, this production failed to amuse in the way it intended, and was more confusing than thought provoking.
It is always challenging bringing your own student writing to life, but I seriously question Fraser Logue’s decision to write, direct and star in the production. This caused three major problems; firstly the play seemed to lack focus, and therefore felt slow and stagnated, emphasised by the painfully long scene changes and clumsy blocking. This limited direction also meant that the supporting characters lacked any depth, and scenes of emotional intensity felt out of place. Secondly, at just over three hours long, the script needs a serious amount of editing, and as I’m sure it will be difficult to cut significant sections of your own work, I would advise Logue to seek out an objective individual to assist in this absolutely necessary process. Thirdly, the fact that Logue cast himself as the lead in his own play made the whole show feel more like an exercise in self indulgence than an intelligent, serious production.
Having said this, Logue did give a convincing performance as Konstandin Normandeau, the troubled, misogynistic playwright. Although his passion and intensity worked well in certain scenes, I would advise Logue to consider varying his energy levels, which would give those particular moments more impact. Normindeu’s sidekicks James and Guy (played by Joe Pape and Richard Dyer), and Dr Ogdon (Joe Mathieson) must be commended for bringing out any comedy in their stale lines. Similarly, the rest of the cast were strong, though I couldn’t help feeling sympathy for them, having to portray dull, one dimensional characters, where the only amusement came from the occasional cheap laugh.
The lighting of the stage using three small lamps was an effective choice, reflecting the story by creating the feel of a writer at his desk. However during the reenactments of ‘Konstandin’s’ plays (which took up the majority of the performance), they were unused, leaving merely the fluorescent overhead lighting, which slowly flickered on and off during the scene changes, and left some long sections of dialogue in complete darkness. The ‘slap dash’ props added to this unprofessional finish- some of them looked as if they had been assembled in the five minutes before the actors appeared on stage. However, although I’m not sure this was their intended purpose, some of these props provided the comedic highlight of the night for me, particularly a baby made from a rolled up towel, the cardboard box coffin, and especially the human post box costume, which proved to be an audience favourite.
Maybe Konstandin Normandeau is not ready for the world. Or maybe the world is not ready for Konstandin Normandaeu. In any case, I’m sure this unique play will be remembered for a long time.. If you’re intrigued, head down to Allington House tomorrow and see what you make of it.
‘Konstandin Normandeau’ is being performed from the 2nd-4th of March, tickets are available on the DST website under ‘Listings’.