Standing on Ceremony Impresses in Its Inaugural Performance

Barney Bruce-Smythe reviews the latest play to come from the Mermaids.

Theatre is a fantastic medium for tackling broad themes. Standing on Ceremony takes on ‘gay rights’ (notably in America, though of course this carries across the pond). It is a compilation of eight short stories from seven different writers that are seemingly unrelated – each one introducing new characters to approach gay rights from a different perspective and thus engage with the audience in a new way. The whole cast must be praised however for differentiating their characters so effectively in each scene to achieve this.

Several obvious pitfalls await any director with such an entanglement of scenes. It would be more than fair however to conclude that Nataliea Abramowitz, alongside the rest of the cast and production team, have sidestepped these elegantly. It was greatly appreciated when the actors managed to limit their movement, and thus distractions.

The message (advocating the improvement of gay rights) is very explicit. Although approached from different angles in each scene, the overall performance did not feel disjointed. The pace tended to be very good, with variations in tone to compliment the individuality of each scene. A few scenes did experience a lull, and perhaps the broadly similar overtones gave the Barron a slight air of repetitiveness – however the switching from sad to comedic scenes felt natural, and kept the audience highly engaged.

The piece was well produced and despite the odd line slipping, anybody in the audience would surely testify that little could detract from the performance. The set was minimal, as was the lighting design and this was absolutely what the piece demanded.

Having said this, the set was not only ‘functional’. Each scene’s was different and as the whole performance progressed – the number of flowers on set increased. This not only served to act as a very visual link between the individual scenes, but represented the building depth and emotion of the play. Perhaps it is in this regard that some more nuances could have been explored.

When you see the play (and I highly recommend that you do), I would encourage you to look for some of these nuances, and contrast between the scenes and perspectives presented. Overall a very strong benchmark for what shall hopefully be a fantastic year for theatre in St Andrews.

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