By midlandsmovies, Jun 1 2017 08:52AM
The Graduate (2017)
The Curve Theatre in Leicester
Adapted by Terry Johnson, this new stage production of the famous 1963 novel (and the infamous 1967 film) comes to Leicester’s Curve theatre on the movie’s 50th anniversary.
Charles Webb’s novel is used as the basis alongside the adapted screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry which is all the more amazing knowing it’s been organised by special arrangement with Studio Canal.
Catherine McCormack (Braveheart, The Land Girls, 28 Weeks Later) is the play’s iconic cougar Mrs. Robinson (made famous by Anne Bancroft in the movie) and she is supported by Jack Monaghan as Benjamin as he fills the shoes of Dustin Hoffman’s film incarnation.
Immediately the talented director Lucy Bailey plays up the dark humour with hilarious lines delivered in quick succession warming the audience to the protagonists. Chuckles turned into belly laughs later on as the cast showed an amazing comedic talent especially including a brief but memorable role by Tom Hodgkins as Benjamin’s father Mr Braddock.
The stage design from Mike Britton was fantastic as we moved from home settings and hotels to elevators and wedding chapels. Large projected back-lit screens have the feel of 1960’s Super-8 film but this also allowed the production to utilise these in dream-like sequences to penetrate into the mind of Benjamin. This ingenious use of adaptation from the novel got the audience far more emotionally involved and broke up the scenes into understandable narrative chunks.
The music was sparse and came in the form of a few acoustic tracks but the lack of the iconic Simon and Garfunkel tunes was disappointing but understandable given the copyright issues no doubt. However, these sounds of silence were overcome by an engaging atmosphere created by the actors themselves and the background noise effects.
The lighting especially was first rate as it created a space on the stage for the drama and comedy to play out. Finally, the crew should be applauded again for the simple, yet effective, use of curtains. As well as a symbol of privacy and hidden secrets, the half-drawn fabrics created rooms and windows as well as a hazy visions of the society Benjamin fights against.
With the stage illusions complete, the funny gags continued and we see Monaghan’s Benjamin create his own worst world with his infamous liaisons with Mrs Robinson before his self destructive nature homes in on her daughter – a delightful Emma Curtis as put-upon Elaine.
Some adult nudity and arguments are handled with sensitivity and the actors have such great chemistry you are certainly with them every step of the way. Emotions eventually climax as the disillusioned souls come together and the illicit relationships are laid bare. Richard Clothier’s natural talent should also be singled out as the confident, then broken, Mr. Robinson as he plays a husband shattered by the forbidden revelations.
Catherine McCormack’s drunken antics were a joy to watch throughout whilst she infused the role with an eroticism that any male would desire and Monaghan equally steps up his talent to match. His performance is one of great depth as he has to give Benjamin both tender and pathetic qualities yet does so with ease.
With so many parts working together there was an audible silence at the play’s conclusion, the likes of which I had never witnessed in a theatre and whilst it riffs on the film, the ending relies far more on the novel.
The Graduate is such a quality production that to pick minor faults would do such a high class show a disservice. With audience engagement at a high and with charming performances and the remarkable technical qualities so well executed this is one affair you won’t ever want to end.
Catch The Graduate at Curve Leicester from 1st to 10th June 2017.
This production has an age guidance of 14+ and contains some nudity.
Tickets can be purchased from the Official Ticket Office at 0116 242 3595 with discounts for under 16s, over 60s, under 18s school groups, members and more.