A couple of days ago I told you about the improv show I went to. That wasn’t the only play I’ve been to last week though. On Wednesday I went to a play starring my friend Tulya: Sherlock Holmes performed by The Understudies and directed by Floris Boone.
The Understudies is a theater group connected to the English faculty of the university. Therefore, their performances are in English. It was the first English play I ever saw that wasn’t my own.
At the beginning of the play, I had a bit of a hard time following the story and understanding everything the characters said. At first I believed this was due to me being there a minute before the play started. I was still stressed out from worrying we might be late and miss the play. I hadn’t had the time to fully recover and relax before it started. Obviously, that didn’t help me focus. Another reason I believed to be the case was that the actors all had British accents (except for one). In my daily life I’m accustomed more to the American accent, so my brain just needed some time to adjust, I assumed.
Later on however I heard that some of my friends also had a hard time understanding the actors and the story in the beginning. Perhaps the actors also had to adjust a bit. And the storyline was quite complicated. It revolved around people who were already dead and some important people were mentioned early on, but didn’t make their appearance until the end of the play.
After a short while though, I was able to follow the play just fine. It was really great to watch. The decor was awesome, it really looked as if we were at these people’s homes. I was amazed by the decor changes! To change locations, some furniture was completely reassembled. Chairs changed color and a piano became a desk and later even a couch! Oh my god, I thought Bedtime Stories had difficult prop changes, but this play definitely topped it! They did it all very quickly though and they had thought of something to avoid these changes from getting bored for us; during each change, there was an intermezzo performed by two or three actors. Brilliant!
The actors also all had beautiful costumes, which really added to the atmosphere. And it was really nice that they had genuine British accents. (considering they were all Dutch and Tulya is Turkish). This way I could really believe I was in a British setting.
After a while my friend Tulya Kavaklıoğlu came on stage as Sidney Prince. Unlike the other actors, she is not a student at the English faculty, so I expected her to be the only one without a proper English accent. But she didn’t talk in her normal Turkish accent. When she opened her mouth, a true Cockney accent (which is basically a London street accent) came out of her! She totally blew me away!
Okay, enough about accents. Let’s talk about the play itself. Like I said, the storyline was a bit complicated. The group had tried to make it easier to understand for the audience by offering a booklet with a synopsis to read before the play started. However, I was too late to actually read it… My fault, obviously, but it made it a bit more difficult to follow.
That having said, it was a really cool story! It was not the usual play of a love story or a war about a kingdom (have you read Shakespeare?). Nor was it a weird abstract play without a real story (have you red this review?). The play had true content, an interesting story, action, cleverness, beautifully phrased lines. At times it felt like looking at an action movie, at other times it felt like reading a detective.
Marnix the Gier, who played Sherlock Holmes himself, was a very pleasant actor to both look at and listen to. He had a relaxed face, which perfectly matched his character. His voice was so calm, yet not boring at all. He made me think of Dumbledore a bit (have you read Harry Potter? You should!); a wise man who has the perfect answer for every question, who sees and knows everything and who always stays calm, despite his chaotic surroundings. This is not an easy thing to play, but the actor did it perfectly.
I also truly loved the antagonist of the play: Moriarty, played by Tim Renes. They type casted him so well. He could make these big, scaring eyes whenever he was angry. I totally could see why people would be terrified of him. He also had this smugness over him that suited his character so well. He flourished in this role.
And lastly I would like an honorable mention for Sherlock’s maid Billy, played by Anke Slotman. She only had a small role, but I know for sure every person in the audience will remember her. She immediately won everyone’s heart just by entering the stage for the first time. The way she hopped around, the cheerful way she smiled and spoke… She was a great example of how to make a small role big. She was pure comedy. I loved her.
I didn’t get to mention all the actors, there were so many. A lot of them I also enjoyed very much, for example the doctor, the butler, Craigin and many more, but I cannot describe them all, without turning this blog into a book.
Not all people in the play were star players, but that’s okay. I didn’t expect them to be. In the first place, they are English students. To be honest, I was amazed by the acting quality as it was. I know how hard it is to find great actors, imagine how hard it must be to find them in one faculty only. I thought all of them had great potential. I could see the director had managed to teach a lot to the people with few experience.
I loved it! I enjoyed the whole play, I was surprised multiple times and at some points I was even blown away. The Understudies is a group I will definitely go see again if I have the chance.
This was the eleventh play I’ve seen since the start of my project, which means I have fourteen more left to go. I’m progressing really well with this goal, don’t you agree?