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On the date of the 20th of December 2006, our drama class attended a professional theatre production of the play ‘Guys and Dolls’ at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham.
In my eyes, the play was performed excellently, but before you could fully focus on the acting etc, the first aspect you instantly recognised was the set and how cleverly they used it and incorporated it into the production. For instance, the set managers dropped a ‘flat’ to change to the mission scene setting, yet moreover this was done in such a way that you almost didn’t realise they were doing it.
As well as this, to create the ‘Hotbox’ setting; they placed furniture, including tables swiftly on to the sides with lights on them and also they used spotlights to show the stage area and finally dropped a tinsel curtain. In doing all these, they created a realistic scene of a karaoke show room, but it also matched the period of time it was set in.
Importantly, the movement of any furniture was done so that it co-incided with what the characters were doing at that moment, therefore there were no awkward silences or gaps in the performance.
A further way they cleverly changed the set efficiently was during the ‘Havana Cuba’ scene, this was one of my favourite scenes, for the reason I was somewhat amazed at the way they used lighting to create the moon in the background. It was done successfully, that at first thought I didn’t even realise that the moon was created by lighting.
This superb simple object to a certain extent made the whole scene, as it gave it the sense of night time, but on top of that, there was an underlying romanticised atmosphere, which supplemented what was happening in the scene and it needed that. Furthermore, the costumes changed into casual, summery style clothing in comparison to the New York Street costumes, by doing this they illustrated that the climate was hot, consequently we know that it is set in Havana, which of course is known for being a warm climate, making it realistic as well as effective.
Another scene where I feel the set was extremely well presented was the ‘Sewer’ scene, in which obtained lights from the top of the theatre to reflect grills on the ground and there was a big tunnel backdrop to display a 3D effect, nevertheless this was still the same ring that they used for the moon, only altered by lighting; I find this absolutely astounding and the visual effect given off was amazing and enthralled the audience. Nonetheless, in me saying all of this, the lighting was never over the top but simple and effective, giving it that realist layer to it, and I may also point out that when the actors were singing- Lights flashed or lowered to create a feeling of speed or excitement. Overall, in my opinion, the set was the foremost thing that engaged with the audience and I, and played a central role in making it a fantastic experience.
Another aspect that we must take into consideration was the costumes used. Each costume was firmly associated with the setting and social class that specific characters undertook. One example of this was the New York Street costumes; dapper suits, jackets, hats, braces ties and the woman all wore similar tight dresses, prim and proper, and all of this made them look quite glam. This is in contrast with the costumes for Cuba- Flouncy, coloured dressed, with the girls giving off a sexy, seductive look and above all, the colours of their dresses suggested their emotions.
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