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Reviews / Drama festival kicks off with four well received performances

On Monday night, I had the enormous pleasure of watching the entire first night of the 2024 Shetland County Drama Festival, writes Shetland News reviewer Bertie Summers.

The Queen’s Tale by Sound primary School. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

Festival organiser Kevin Briggs introduced an evening of stunning performances at the Garrison Theatre with a warm welcome speech noting how easily this year’s festival went ahead without snow disrupting the performances the last two years.

The first of Monday night’s four performances was The Queen’s Tale. The pupils of Sound Primary School performed their own version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

It included Willow Duncan playing an evil queen, whose mirror on the wall tells her that Snow White (Natalie Leggate) is the fairest of them all. Through jealousy, the Queen wants Snow White dead.

Willow Duncan provided a strong display of the kind of entitled and annoying queen who has to have everything for herself. She got into this character very skilfully.

The second production was performed by members of the Open Door Drama youth group. A Melodrama was a beautifully silly and goofy depiction of families being almost thrown out into the snow because they were unable to pay their rent.

This piece of improvised theatre brought out the glaring differences and divisions between the impoverished and the rich, air-headed neighbourhood right next door called ‘the preppy town’.

A Melodrama performed by Open Door Youth. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

This masterfully hit home the huge gaps between the fortunate and the unfortunate in modern society.

Praise must go for the hilarious final line delivered by Alfie Boyes. He abruptly sang I know I’m fifteen and you’re ninety one, but I think you’re kind of hot. This rightfully sent the whole crowd into roaring laughter.

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The Westside Players subsequently produced a brilliantly insightful robbery story, titled The Baddies. This was filled with surprises from beginning to end.

What particularly sticks in my mind is the phenomenal mic-drop delivery of Wendy Broadbent in the role of Marge (Kevin’s Gran). Her character was vastly different to typical stereotypes of old ladies.

While we are supposed to believe that elderly women are soft and sensitive and are lacking in tough personalities, Marge was undoubtedly cunning and calculating.

A Sad Day when we left the Croft by Brenna Players. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

She brilliantly helped to save the robbers from prosecution by claiming that they were her siblings from Australia. I loved their ridiculous fake Aussie accents.

Pinning the blame for the jeweller’s shop robbery on her lovely next door neighbour Rosie, proving that she was clearly capable of doing whatever it took to see the outcome she wanted.

Last night’s performances finished with a hugely satisfying rendition of A Sad Day When We Left the Croft by the Brenna Players.

Jonathan had decided to leave his croft house family for America and upon returning home, his stubborn and narrow-minded father is still bitter about this.

But this feud is quickly overshadowed by the prospect of Jonathan potentially being prosecuted for crimes he did not commit. Debbie Jamieson’s character provides a breathtakingly unforgettable sight to see.

The Baddies by Westside Players. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

Jonathan’s Aunt Morag clearly shows just how courageous she is, in a heated phone call with Jonathan’s hard-hearted American employer, looking to harshly punish him for no good reason.

This highly experienced former barrister single-handedly gets the better of all the crooked and high-powered US lawyers that they can possibly throw at her.

What they all accomplished together reminds us what happens when families stick together and unite to face their problems.

I was also seriously impressed with the stunning character development of Andrew, as he finally learns to accept his son for who he is. Many will be able to relate to the challenges that these individuals faced.

The entire evening was great fun from beginning to end and I look forward to see more masterpiece productions in the coming few days.


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