Chengelo School Play
Posted Apr 04, 2007
The Thwarting of Baron Boligrew
Following the success of the comical production of The Taming of the Shrew last year, it was only natural to try another comedy for 2007. The modern play we chose was technically very difficult, and set in medieval times when knights of old slew dragons and fought for justice.
But in the opening scene the audience begin to wonder how knights ever became legends, as they show more enthusiasm for eating, sleeping and musical chairs than slaying dragons!
The plot begins when the Duke, played coolly and laconically by Emmanuel Chikoti, sends the heroic Sir Oblong Fitz Oblong (Thomas Jordan) to the Bolligrew Islands to slay the voracious dragon. There he meets the greedy bully, Baron Bolligrew (Vladislav Gordic) and his mentally challenged sidekick, Squire Blackheart.
Oblong realises he will have to champion the downtrodden peasants if he wants to restore justice and rebuild the church.
The humour of the play depends largely on skilful characterisation and in this all the main actors excelled. Tom Jordan was a natural for the part of the virtuous but comically flawed hero and his verbal jousting with the baron was a delight to watch.
The physical confrontation with Blackheart (Michael Elledge) was also memorable, climaxing in a hilarious duel played in slow motion to a Cossack Sabre dance!
Michael also stole the show with his outrageously funny armour (one of the many colourful creations by Mollie Roff) and his lively acting and gormless expressions had the audience in stitches.
Vlad, our Head Boy, was a maturing influence during all the months of rehearsals and gave a masterfully assured performance as Bolligrew.
Some of the funniest scenes followed the long tradition of British pantomime and Tom skilfully worked the audience into shouting out the immortal words: “He’s behind you!” “He” turns out to be Mike Magpie, (Joshua Solomon), whose cheeky cawing voice and life-like costume greatly endeared him to the audience.
Lloyd Matthews was very believable as Obidiah Bobblenob, the egg painter, completing the trio of underdogs fighting for justice, and when the eggs are painted, sold and the money presented to the baron, we again saw Vlad’s acting skills as he performed a swift and comical double-take.
The court sessions were all splendidly completed by the islands’ oppressed peasants, who also doubled as knights and other essential roles:
Wachizya Nyirenda, Paulo Graca, Isabel Chikoti, Amy Parkinson and Ntinda Nakazwe were all stars and played their multiple roles with flair and a growing confidence which made each scene they were involved in a success, particularly the dragons’ tails scene and the choreographed reaction to the misbehaving Oblong.
Danica Miladinovic was also a star as the smooth-talking Smootheley-Smoothe, whose cheeky smiles deceived the duke and made the audience chuckle, notably in her umbrella-waving succour of her seasick boss.
The second half introduced the key character of the evil Doctor Moloch, played animatedly by Kalusha Kapepula. She brought a delicious wickedness to the role and intimidated players and audience alike by her “magical” powers.
She was mischievously assisted by Dalitso Chanika, who doubled as the Lord Mayor, bringing an entertaining liveliness and animation to both roles.
The arch-enemy, the dragon, was vividly and frighteningly brought to life by the voice of Adam Scott, and Gloria Chikoti and Shawn Simamba both shone in their dual roles, heightening the comedy by their cheeky and irreverent acting.
The play was held together by the calm assurance and clear narration of the story-teller, Melanie Bruce-Miller, while
Deborah Yambala, Wongani Ngulube, Kate Crisp, Jack Parkinson and Kanyabu Kazadi ably supported it all.
The final night’s performance ended with much enthusiastic applause from the packed house, who were all full of praise for the cast at the after-play reception. All the cast and the directors can truly report that we had such fun and laughter during the long months of rehearsals that we didn’t want it to end and are still relishing and reliving every moment of the drama.
We look forward to seeing many of the cast in future productions and to welcoming you as guests again for next term’s production of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Trevor H. Roff, Director