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The English Drama School of Barcelona performed their fourth play of the year last weekend: Lifeline. Inspired by a true story, this original work was written, produced and directed by Julian Wickham, the school's founder, and performed in front of captive audiences at The English Drama Theatre in the city's Gothic Quarter.
The play follows Phil Roach, a likeable character who, after breaking up with his girlfriend and finding himself alone in London, proceeds to post 5,000 flyers all over the city, with the question “Are you lonely?” and his phone number. The story then focuses on the range of characters who call Phil, each one with their own story to tell. Some call to vent or seek advice, others to confess or flirt. No two calls are the same, and Phil's reaction is equally different on each occasion, resulting in a play that delves into the eclectic mix of personalities that come together in a big city such as London.
There were some impressive performances from the cast, the majority of whom had either little or no previous acting experience. The ten actors, of varying nationalities, well and truly took to their roles. From the wife who confesses her 2-year affair with another man to the newly freed criminal, who manages to be likeable and endearing despite her past, and the investment banker who has been recently made redundant, the play smoothly incorporates a varied range of characters.
The investment banker, Harry, stood out. Actor Jonas Linde portrayed a suicidal city worker whose recent redundancy had pushed him close to the edge - literally – he was ringing from the 15th floor of his office building, about to jump. His performance was credible and heartfelt: he shouted and he ranted, without falling into the trap of going over the top and overplaying the part. Special mention should also be made to Holger Exner, Phil's first caller, whose flirtatious homosexual character Martin kicked off the story and raised laughs amongst the audience. Phil's “What have I done?” doubts were written all over his face.
The second half of the play returned to visit each of the characters, as they conversed with Phil once more, offering conclusions to each of the individual stories, and demonstrating the impact his input had. The varied situations kept the play fresh throughout, switching from one story to another as the stage was plunged into darkness between scenes. Smooth set changes from the drama school's growing backstage team ensured the smooth running of the show.
The English Drama School perform a mixture of original plays and adaptations, with the last three plays this year also proving popular. The school, the only one of its kind in Barcelona, offers weekly classes to budding actors of all nationalities and ages. Julian commented that this group of actors were the happiest yet, with each one immersing him or herself into the role, and this was evident. Professional and talented, the actors genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves throughout.
The English Drama School's next play will be The Graduate in December. The adaptation will be an interesting change from this original work and one that I imagine will be pretty popular, as word continues to spread about this small, amateur yet very professional theatre group.
By Eleanor Montgomery