Perse Players perform moving production of A Monster Calls
Audiences were treated to exceptional performances across the Perse Players’ four-show run of A Monster Calls.
Talented actors from Year 7 to Upper Sixth came together to star in the moving play, adapted from the Patrick Ness novel, which tells the story of Conor, whose mother has terminal cancer, and his relationship with the Monster, who is formed of the yew tree in his back garden.
Notably, the Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre was given a major makeover with the stage set up in the centre of the auditorium so that performances took place in the round.
Carole Tucker (Lower Sixth), who , along with Liviana Alliott (Upper Sixth), was co-assistant director to Perse Theatre Practitioner in Residence Andrew Pritchard, was delighted with how the production had gone, having witnessed it come together since the start of term.
She said: “It looked so professional. The cast members really developed their acting through the rehearsals and were able to create their own versions of the characters and that was really impressive.
“I worked really closely with the cast and attended most rehearsals to help Mr Pritchard with blocking – their entrances and exits and the way they move around the stage – to reflect their interactions and relationships with other characters.
“I’d never worked in the ‘backstage’ aspect of a production before and hadn’t realised the whole process involved.
“Before, I’d just look at a play and focus on the storyline, the plot and the dialogue, but I never realised elements such as the lighting or costume choices really had such a significant impact on the development of the show.
“As a drama scholar, it’s very important to understand how a play works, so it’s been a really important learning experience for me.”
The main roles were double cast including those of Conor – Emma Walshe (Year 9) and Sam Ronco (Year 10), the Monster – Rory Ward-Thomas (Year 11) and Izzy Bevens (Upper Sixth), and Conor’s mum – Paloma Bargh (Year 10) and Gabriella Bedford (Upper Sixth).
On playing Conor, Sam said: “It was quite a heavy part, but one I enjoyed playing. It was a good learning experience in terms of acting because I’d never played a part that has such a sad feeling to it,” while Emma added: “It was a great experience and I made a lot of new friends from across all different year groups.”
Izzy relished the role of the Monster, adding that she and Rory had tried performing the part in different ways during the rehearsal process.
She said: “It was a really good experience playing with the character to help understand it more. I’d also never done anything in the round before, so it was quite intimidating at first. It makes you feel more on show, but I actually quite liked it.”
Meanwhile, Gabriella and Paloma both enjoyed the challenge of playing Conor’s mum, with a collection for the Teenage Cancer Trust taking place at each performance tying in with the theme of their character’s illness.
Gabriella said: “I’d never played such an emotional role before and I’m so glad I got to see Paloma play the part as well because it gave me a different angle in terms of thinking about the words I had to say.”
Paloma added: “I’ve often played a villain before, so it was a really new experience to have this type of role and convey the relationship she had with her son.”