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27 November 2014

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October, 2003
Review of Europe
Simon Tavener visited the Oxford Playhouse and found the production of Europe ambitious, thought-provoking and challenging...


Preview of Humble Boy

Preview of Europe at the Oxford Playhouse

Review of Romeo & Juliet

Review of Happy Natives


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Europe is playing at the Oxford Playhouse from Wednesday October 22 to Saturday October 25.

Student drama directors all too often select repertoire from a very safe list of well-worn classics. Either that or they perform self-indulgent pieces of theatre with so many in-jokes that an audience is left totally bemused.

I was delighted to encounter a production of a contemporary play that confounds these stereotypes.

Ilan Goodman has made a brave choice in staging this challenging work.

It is a sweeping epic tackling issues of global concern and features a cast of the best actors from the current Oxford generation.

The cast were totally committed and their physicality reflected their response to events and the text.

Actors in Europe
Actors in Europe.

It seems unfair to single out individuals from such a strong ensemble cast, but Colin Burnie gives an outstanding portrayal of a man resigned to his fate yet content with his lot.

Polly Findlay and Kate Fowler give performances full of passion and determination as they struggle to escape the confines of their lives.

An impressively imposing set created a very strong sense of location. The lighting and sound effects used to indicate the passing of vast express trains shook the theatre with an almost overwhelming power.

Mention too must be made of the score by Kathryn Taylor - it was affecting and involving without overpowering the action. I was particularly impressed by the choral speaking which punctuated the action.

Overall, it is an intelligent and thought-provoking play which the creative team have tackled with great ambition and commitment.

On the whole, they have succeeded in bringing a coherent vision to the stage. I would encourage as many people as possible to support their energy and enthusiasm and get along to the Playhouse this week.

Review by Simon Tavener

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