first night

Madame's Late Mother

Mo Simpson gives her take on Hatfield's Freshers' Play.

What do you get when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? This was the question I was faced with when watching Hatfield’s Freshers’ Play: Madame’s Late Mother by Georges Feydeau. A flurry of a play in many different ways—from timing to delivery—this was something to behold, and the collision of two bold leads for forty-five minutes made for highly entertaining viewing.

The play revolves around a married French couple who have been drawn into an argument late in the night in their bedroom, when the master of the house returns home after a rowdy night out. Without revealing too much, total chaos ensues, though it was a positive kind of chaos given that I found myself grinning throughout.

In terms of set, special mention must go to the double-bed piano, which was undoubtedly my favourite artistic choice of the whole show. The costume design was also very elegant in its choosing. The well-fitted suits and night attire were appropriate to both the characters’ individual social classes and the modern-day period. I particularly enjoyed the comedy brought out from Louis the Fourteenth’s wig.

Despite having some initial doubts, the use of The Birley Room as the show’s venue was a great choice. By immersing you in the production almost first-hand, it made the setting of a bedroom far more believable. The positioning of the curtains and the large windows provided two backstage wings, which allowed for slick entrances and exits. The small space also allowed for good sightlines, and the chairs were spaced quite comfortably apart, which were very useful for a short human being such as myself! Lighting was fairly basic, but given the show’s one-room setting and short duration, this did not detract from the production in any way.

Lead actors Katie Sterland and Sebastian Higgins bounced brilliantly off each other with their fast and seamless quips, drawing you in immediately. Their use of movement and facial expression was perfectly exaggerated to initiate the comedic undertones the play wanted to convey, and at no point did the comedy feel forced or overdone. Particularly memorable was Sterland’s trust/fall sequence, and credit must go to her for impressively maintaining her composure, despite being shifted around so much. The supporting roles filled by Arabella Henderson and Joseph Norbury are also worth mention, as they brought just as much energy to their speech and movement as the principle actors, securing the play’s overall great performance in my mind. Every performance was highly professional, and the cast showed great chemistry and courtesy when conducting some of the more awkward moments.

In conclusion, LTC’s Madame’s Late Mother was a thoroughly enjoyable hour. It is a shame that its run was so short, but credit must go to all actors and members of the production team for setting the bar high. I certainly look forward to following their progress through DST.

21 November 2016

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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