Saturday, April 13, 2024

Rent Review: Better Than Broadway!

By Lucy Chipperfield

Jonathan Larson’s rock musical, ‘Rent’, revolves around the complicated lives of seven bohemian friends in modern day East Village New York. Their shared struggle against poverty, drug abuse, gender identity and Aids, brings these individualistic characters together to form a truly emotive narrative.

It is obvious that ‘Rent’ is an incredibly challenging musical to perform, given the array of complex topics that are intertwined within the narrative. Therefore, when Gable Hall School’s Senior Youth Theatre revealed that ‘Rent’ would be their next production, it was no wonder that concerns were raised with relation to its challenging content. In addition, one wonders whether the young performers would be able to contend with such complex life issues.

However, the moment the musical opened, any concerns and worries were instantly gone and the audience were left captivated by the brilliantly mature and talented performances on stage. Not only did these young performers manage to deal with such complex issues effortlessly, but they also delivered them with true conviction and believability.

Josh Woo’s performance as Roger Davis, a failed rock musician with HIV, was outstanding and truly captured the extreme emotional hurdles he faces within the year. In addition, Woo’s on-screen love interest, Mimi (played by Julie Moore) was also exceptional. In fact, Moore’s portrayal of Mimi, a dancer with HIV, was arguably the most challenging role given how difficult it must have been for a young person to confidently create such a provocative character on stage. Nevertheless, Moore did incredibly well and provided an excellently mature performance.

Another on screen pairing who lit up the stage were HIV+ Tom Collins (played by Richard Oyewole) and HIV+ transvestite, Angel (played by Charlotte Dowsett). Once again these roles, and the relationship between them, were very complex and emotionally demanding. However, both Oyewole and Dowsett breezed through the play with ease and provided exceptional performances.

Amongst the sadness and trauma that dominates this play, there was an added sparkle in the character of Maureen (played by Emily Elsom). Without a doubt, Elsom’s performance of the outrageous and overwhelming quirky Maureen was brilliant and added the light-hearted relief that this play needed. Elsom truly captured the audience with her energetic and entertaining performance and was a great success on stage. In addition, Elsom’s relationship with Joanne (played by Hannah Flanders) was excellently portrayed and the two of them complimented one another very well.

Holding these characters and the narrative together is, budding film maker, Mark (played by Shaun Crisp). Throughout the play Mark is suffering from an overwhelming sense of loneliness and cannot seem to succeed in life or relationships. Whilst watching Crisp’s performance, it was clear that he completely understood the character of Mark having provided a truly believable performance. In addition, Crisp also did a great job as the narrator and successfully guided the audience through the progress of the narrative effortlessly.

Overall, ‘Rent’ was brilliant! The cast were exceptional and provided a really captivating play for everyone to enjoy. No doubt, this was a very complex and demanding play for everyone. However, the high standard of talent that was involved made it a real success. I wholeheartedly admire all of the young people involved within this year’s production of ‘Rent’. They are all outstanding and they should be very proud of themselves, each other and their performances. I guess I will have to wait 525,600 minutes more until Gable Hall’s Senior Youth Theatre reveal their next super production!


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