After watching my first two productions at RADA this summer, I was honestly gutted to say that I was incredibly disappointed with the level of acting skill that the third year actors showcased. Also, I didn’t enjoy the play ‘Strange Orchestra’ because I felt like it was un-relatable and sadly a horrible play choice from the school itself, the play dragged on for so long by the end I was literally asleep.
However, that did not stop me from buying tickets to see their Autumn Season because I am a firm believer in giving things another go and with such a great reputation I was intrigued to see what RADA was all about, also I had previously read this play and enjoyed it, so of course as you could imagine I wanted to see it up on its feet.
The play was set in one of the schools smaller performance studios with minimal set and very few seats. This made the play feel more intimate, focusing on the story and the acting. I think these spaces are becoming my favourite because you feel so connected to the happenings on stage like you are literally peeking into somebody’s life.
Leaves centres around a family living in Belfast, we get to see how the family dynamics change as they each try to cope with the fact that the oldest daughter (Lori) has tried to kill herself unsuccessfully and she is now coming back home.
Lucy Caldwell explores this dynamic in a way that hasn’t been explored before: through the perpetrator’s family. I found it particularly interesting because my modern speech deals with suicide as a personal experience, so it was eye opening to see how such a traumatic event affects the victims mental health as well as the family.
Throughout the play I believed what was going on and felt like the acting was of a high standard, but struggled to believe the ‘dad’ character: the essence of his part was to capture the ‘loving dad’ figure and I didn’t believe his connection to his family, which in tern made his performance stale for me.
In conclusion, I’m happy to report that this play has single handedly restored my faith in RADA again and has shown me that its not about the school, its about the actors. If you are interested in mental health or live in Belfast, I recommend reading or watching this play if it’s on.