Review: Collegiate, The Bread and Roses Theatre

As a student, I often hear complaints, mainly from the older generation, about how little we contribute to society. During this period of time, when older people look at students they see a big problem with binge drinking and the environment of peer pressure which leads to a lot of antisocial behaviour. As a young person, I can honestly say that does not cross our minds when we go out. It can be incredibly selfish and stupid, but we have no second thoughts about repeating our actions time and time again. Kev and Tash are the same, they’re on another night out with their friends, because it’s freshers! Kev is actually really into Anna, and Tash is still trying to make Bov jealous from the last time they got together. But they end up in the same club and decide to walk home together, because Tash is far too drunk. After a situation by the river together, Tash files a report to the university. Over the course of the play, the simple issue of assault seems to become increasingly complicated.

Writer Natalie Beech does really well to address these social issues, with an exceedingly wide overview of every party involved. We see the doctors, the college councillors, the friends; we hear from them all. Nothing is particularly biased, and neither party is blamed, but we can see their outside influences. The friends who don’t care enough, the doctor who keeps checking his phone, the university which doesn’t want to cause a stir and so on. She is obviously well versed in similar writing, as she teaches about exploring the impact of issue-based drama in higher education. Her experience shines through, but not in a bawdy PSHE or TIE type way. She simply tells a story which we follow and reflect upon. In just 60 minutes, it is a succinct and successful piece of drama.

Rebecca Tubridy as Tash and Stephen Love as Kev are both smooth and skilled in changing from one character to the next. With very little costume changing or utilisation of the space, the story is brought to life through their monologues and impersonations alone. They attack the script with fervour, showcasing two thoroughly diligent actors.

There are particular moments when the writing and direction (by Brigitte Adela) really come together, such as the scene in which both characters are talking to an official councillor at the university. The actors sit side by side addressing the audience, switching from their official character to their young fresher. The writing is slick; they speak overlapping and undercutting one another. It brings a new drive to the stage and keeps the audience really engaged.

This piece was showcased by The Written Foundations Theatre Company as part of The Clapham Fringe. It is a stunning new work from a young company of theatre-makers, which most definitely has the legs to propel them forward in their journey.

Collegiate played at the Bread and Roses Theatre until November 6.

Bethany Dickinson

A graduate of Musical Theatre, I'm an avid reader of non-fiction and go to the theatre at least once a week. You can also catch me working behind the bar at Southwark Playhouse and Kings Cross Theatre!