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Reviews / Drama festival continues to impress

LAST NIGHT (Thursday) four more performances took place at the Garrison Theatre for the Shetland County Drama Festival and they certainly left a big impression on Shetland News reviewer Bertie Summers.

The first was titled Magnolia, by Sandwick Junior High School. It included two teachers (Aiya Johnson and Heidi Gray) to select a play for their students to put on.

These pupils are quite clearly embracing woke culture, when they refuse to perform Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, on the grounds of “racist undertones”.

It turns out that Mr. Right (Travis Wright) has been influencing these young people to hold such beliefs, and this trend only continues further.

Sandwick school’s Magnolia. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

They also rule out putting on Cinderella, as “you can’t call people ugly nowadays”. Yet, despite all this, these youngsters are absolutely okay with a little girl being viciously poisoned to death and having her heart ripped out in Little Red Riding Hood.

They say that “it’s only a fairytale”, before a trade unionist official (Laura Wiaszczyk) arrives on to the stage to demand extra pay for everybody involved in this work.

It was definitely humorous for these characters to be painting such a realistic picture of the ultra-woke and politically correct world that we, unfortunately, live in. Their depiction of what this situation is like was spot-on, as well as extremely relatable and realistic.

This show ends with a firm rejection of Prince Charming as the hero of the school’s play, before six other famous storybook heroes hilariously run on to the stage and completely bombard the scene.

After a brief raffle, Magnolia was followed by the Scalloway Players’ A Muse Amuses. John Haswell plays a despairing author (Jonathan) who is desperate for some level of inspiration and progress.

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This causes the entrance of the two Muses (Izzy Swanson and Kari Williamson) who come in to help him find what he is looking for. It was spectacular that they both looked like two powerful Ancient Greek gods.

It all quickly becomes amusing when Muse 2 (Williamson) dramatically declares: “be not afraid, for a child is born in Bethlehem”, and Jonathan can hear Muse 1 (Swanson) declare that she would be down in a minute.

John Haswell in the Scalloway Players’ A Muse Amuses. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

Clearly, the two muses are not familiar with the way that human beings live, as Muse 2 mockingly refers to “terms and conditions that you humans use”.

Eventually, they both start bitterly arguing with Jonathan, who assumes that their job is all just fun and games to them and not the same proper hard work that he deals with. Muse 1 and Muse 2 simply snigger in secret after Jonathan mentions how hard it is to be a writer.

Apparently, he was received a great deal of help, but he just chose not to take it. Muse 1 and Muse 2 simply laugh out loud at how awful the work he has managed to produce is.

This skilfully paints a picture of the hard battles that so many have to face in their workplaces every day. It was heartbreaking to see Jonathan fall fast asleep into a coma at the very end, whilst Muse 1 and Muse 2 just embark on a friendly conversation.

The Brenna Players drama group put on the succeeding production, called Lord Eggleton’s Revenge. A strong feminist message is displayed instantly, as Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun plays.

This group of women certainly like to make fun of the “ladies man” Rich (Leighton Anderson), whose real name is Richard but will always be a [expletive] to Sylvie (Lesley Leslie).

The Brenna Players in action. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

The snarky and immature attitude that these women all display towards each other is fantastic. It is suggested that the “not-so Darling Divina” (Vaila Irvine) has not had to work in a long time.

With the arrival of Jasper the fisherman (Steve Ralph), the whole group agree to put on a play about Lord Eggleton, which hilariously goes horribly wrong.

The “joyless Joy” (Joanne Middleton) comes on to the stage drunk and obnoxious and does a terrible job of singing Let It Go from Frozen.

What was remarkable was Maisie (Tori Hannesson) very carelessly carrying a tray full of glasses and they unexpectedly remain plastered to the tray surface, despite facing the floor.

To make things even more funny, Sylvie starts to read out stage directions, instead of actual lines, before her and Divina start bitterly falling out. The phrase “I’ll use words that you don’t understand” is shouted back and forth at one another.

With Sylvie looking like Gene Simmons from Kiss and Jasper giving a very robotic and monotonous performance, the audience in the Garrison Theatre only erupted into laughter as a tannoy starts playing a radio host giving the group’s play a highly negative review.

The final show of last night stood in stark contrast to the others and was beautifully sad. Fairy Tale by the Open Door Drama Group told the story of a dangerously poor married couple who had nothing.

As soon as Molly (Kelly Nicol) wakes up, she is visibly suffering from a very nasty cough, because of all that has been thrown at the pair. Her husband (James) is upset that he cannot provide for her in any way and she is suffering, as a result.

The Open Door Drama Group. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

Despite these incredibly tough circumstances, their landlord (Kevin Briggs) is hellbent on getting the rent and will happily throw them out of their home if they are unsuccessful in giving it to him.

In a last-ditch attempt to save themselves, Molly reveals that she has been keeping money and hiding it from James, whom she knows will gamble it away. But even this was found by him and lost, meaning that the pair are about to lose their home.

To make up for mucking it all up, James masterfully turns things around by telling a story of a dream where the couple have so many luxuries to enjoy.

It was simply heartwarming to see that this was real and eventually, they do get to have a happy ending, after all.

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