The English Drama school performance of The Graduate
The English Drama School's performance of The Graduate was the group's final play of 2012, and their largest production to date. The play was performed on four consecutive nights to full audiences, to end the drama school's year on a high.
The well-known story follows Benjamin Braddock as he returns to his family home after college, only to be seduced by neighbour Mrs Robinson. She offers a welcome distraction from the mounting pressures from Benjamin's parents, but the affair soon causes problems when Benjamin realises he is in fact in love with her daughter, Elaine. Desperate attempts to convince her of his innocence in the affair and declare his love then follow.
The play took place in 1960s California, and the costumes, sets and soundtrack transported the audience back to the time. Creative Director Natalie Messer and her team really set the scene, focusing on the fine details and carrying out smooth set changes, accompanied by the melodic chimes of Simon and Garfunkel. The costumes played an extremely important part in creating an authentic atmosphere, and it was clear that each one had been carefully thought out and planned.
The cast featured lots of new faces, all of whom seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. In the role of Benjamin Braddock, Enric Van Wyke conveyed the dazed shyness of his character when in the presence of Mrs Robinson and was convincing in his display of feelings for Elaine. Anna Wikström was Brenda, Benjamin's sibling, and played the younger sister role superbly.
The cast was split, with two actors playing both Elaine and Mrs Robinson. Fathila Lahfa as Mrs Robinson and Michelle Frederick as Elaine stood out throughout the play. Mrs Robinson's indifference in the presence of her husband was credible, raising a laugh from the audience at times, and superbly portraying a bored wife looking for some excitement. Michelle's portrayal of Elaine was spot-on. Her costumes suggested she had stepped straight out of the 60s, and her manner and facial expressions showed how the actress had well and truly taken to her role.
The same can be said for all members of the cast. It was evident that they all enjoyed performing, and each of the actors portrayed their various characters well. Writer and director Julian Wickham commented that “all the actors have been very professional, a real pleasure to work with and I feel we have all ended the year on a really high note".
The Graduate showed just how far the English Drama School has come in the last year. The group's first quite amateur production, “Playing with Fire”, was performed less than a year ago, and the acting group and creative team have grown in numbers since, as have the audiences. The school has, in this short time, become the most innovative, premier English-speaking theatre company in Barcelona, and it will be interesting to see what this year holds for them.