Culture critic Ruth Horsburgh enjoys a truly spectacular Christmas treat at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.Written by Ruth Horsburgh on 31st December 2017
REVIEW: Millicent Scowlworthy, Infinity
Comment Editor Kat Smith describes Infinity's production of Millicent Scowlworthy as "Guild drama at its finest"
Infinity’s electric performance of Rob Handel’s Millicent Scowlworthy definitely succeeded in waking up my lazy Sunday. Except for a brief synopsis of the plot, my expectations were fairly non-existent… but the delivery of the dark and twisted tale was nothing short of excellent.
Though the name is somewhat humorous, with ‘Scowlworthy’ being a name worthy of basic GCSE analysis, this play is nor basic nor light-hearted. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of a play. The opening scene depicting an eerily silent queue of school kids picking names out of a fishbowl is starkly contrasted by the wealthy mansion party that follows. It becomes apparent that a group of teenagers at school have started gathering in the night to re-enact the events leading and following the brutal murder of the titular character: nine-year-old Millicent Scowlworthy, a troubled refugee child who was taken in by the wealthy Scowlworthy family.
“It’s a wild ride to say the least
It’s a wild ride to say the least… with changing characters, intense monologues followed by comedic one-liners and sirens making me jump at least a couple of time, this was Guild drama at its finest. Yes, there are elements of the end I am still confused by, but I was assured by cast member Rachel Sargent (Henry Vanderslice) that I was definitely not the only one. No spoilers, though, as I believe anyone who can go and see this play should definitely do so, even if Infinity’s production is sadly now over.
The calibre of the play must be acknowledged as a reason for why the performance was so fantastic. But without Infinity’s delivery it could have been confusing, misleading and messy. The quick scene changes, little clues here and there and the standard of acting all served to do justice to the story and Handel’s talent. The lack of music except for acapella singing and the attention to detail continuously reminded us that these were kids playing out the story – including real cake in the performance yet not a drop of even fake alcohol was particularly clever.
“The whole cast is one of the strongest I’ve witnessed in Guild drama
Without a doubt, the whole cast being one of the strongest I’ve witnessed in Guild drama, with every actor bouncing off each other fantastically. However, there were definitely a couple of stand-out performances in form of Sarah Allwright’s hilarious yet dark Smick and the undeniable talent of Jo Patmore (playing Kelly Vanderslice). In the predominantly female cast, these two actresses were intensely convincing. The audience response to Allwright’s Smick was uproarious laughter – we were definitely all mesmerised by her. Rebecca Vernon (Millicent Scowlworthy) and Ben Cammock (Jake the Strange Kid) even managed to creep me out by their little quirks and mannerisms that really brought their characters to life.
My only criticism would be the overload of baseball jackets to illustrate the North American setting – it was clear but inconsequential anyway, in spite of the lack of US accents. But that is a very minor criticism from someone who is normally quite opinionated when it comes to theatre.
Overall, with all proceeds going to Caring Minds, a Birmingham and Solihull mental health charity, the play couldn’t have been more of a success. I can’t wait to see what magic Infinity present to us next; if it’s anything like their rendition of Millicent Scowlworthy, we’ll be in for a treat.