The 2021 Gibraltar Drama Festival
had arrived and this Journalist could NOT wait for it to start. The excitement was building up and as soon as I walked into the Ince’s Hall, I got a little emotional. It has been a rather long year and the lack of cultural events such as this one made me wonder how long it would be till I covered an event or events of this magnitude but thankfully we are able and the first Drama Festival of any kind in the world was finally upon us.
The first night was definitely one to look forward to. Three plays, one original and two when performed abroad have received high acclaim. ‘Chatroom’ by Enda Walsh and performed by Bayside & Westside Drama Group was the first one on and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I am all for plays, TV shows or movies of the topic at hand and I must say I was heavily invested and drawn to the characters as well as the script. The fact that it is about a troubled teenager who is contemplating suicide is a surreal experience, even if on a stage. Any parent will probably tell you how worried they become or are whenever their children “surf the web” and understandably so. Jim, played by Nikolaj Forrester.did a fantastic job as did the rest of the cast.,especially Jake Hancock as William and Jasmin Jarman as Eva. We were off to a good start and Chatroom definitely ticked all the boxes for me.
Up next and after Chatroom I guess we all needed a chuckle and Hannah Mifsud’s ‘Can I Count On Your Vote?’ by GAMPA Juniors did just that. The elements and little things were enough to make this one of my favourites of the week, it was quick witted and excellently cast, especially Krsna Gulraj as Chloe. The premise of it all is quite funny and its simplicity proves effective throughout as the play goes on. Michael Cortes playing Peter was just as excellent. The support roles played by Joseph Cortes and Isabella Azzopardi were sublime. It was a great one and I laughed a lot, so always a bonus, eh?
The last play of the evening ‘Four Minutes Twelve Seconds’ by James Fritz and put on by Santos Productions was on a different dimension compared to what we had just seen and rightfully so. The play dives into the tale about a leaked video and of course the ordeal one or their families go through. Amee Freyone playing Di was really good, as was Julian Felice as David.Aaron Mosquera playing Nick was particularly believable throughout and did a fabulous job. Hats off to Celine Azzopardi playing Cara as well, she has a bright future ahead if she continues this path.
Another evening of Drama awaited and this one was to deliver, especially the first one of the evening in Girls Like That by Evan Placey and put on GAMPA Teens. I must say the girls put on a spectacular performance. It tackles a lot of important issues aside from the uncomfortable obvious one but to dive in head first and tackle feminism was really good. Major props all around girls, you should be very proud.
Next up was Carol Ann Duffy’s Grimm Tales performed by Bayside & Westside Group. There was a lot of funny dialogue and performances. I must commend Miguel Caballero for his hilarious performance here, he was excellent. Same goes for Ella Burns, the witchy voice was spot on and made for excellent theatre. Overall it was a fun watch and one of my favourites of the week.
Wednesday was going to be interesting, especially with two dramas and a comedy. I am more of a comedy buff but I love a really good drama and the first of Wednesday’s performances did that for me. DNA by Dennis Kelly by GAMPA Seniors was mesmerising I must admit and it took me by surprise. All performances were excellent but my absolute commendation goes to Mikey Piris in the role of Brian. He was believable and excellently cast in a role that suited him immensely. Aaron Mosquera as Phil and Mei Liu as Leah were really good too.
Next up was a dark comedy written by Julian Felice titled ‘I Ate All The Bourbon Creams’. A two man show if you like here which featured Chris Ablitt as Mark and Sam Bush playing the role of Dan. Two roommates who discuss a lot of topics in very little time, it was alright admittedly and did a fine job for what it was
The Exam by Andy Hamilton and performed by The Magazine Studio Theatre was rather entertaining. Some good laughs and delivery especially by Gino Ochello playing the role of Chas. His one liners made him a natural, almost as if he had ad libbed his lines himself! He was hilarious, really was. Nyree Robinson as Miss Baxendale was well cast as was Julian Felice playing the role of Dad. In reality only Chas could see him as he is a ghost, high marks to the girls Mireille Hook playing Bea and Danielle Fernandez playing Andrea.
When I arrived at Ince’s Hall on Thursday, I was amazed as to how quick the week had gone and it is definitely true when they say. “Time flies when you are having fun”. Another three plays were on the agenda and off we went.
Kicking off the night was Bayside & Westside Drama Group’s ‘Ten Minutes’ a tragicomedy by Julian Felice. He would play John and alongside was Chris Ablitt as Peregrine. Considering the play is only ten minutes, it doesn’t give you enough time to really grasp anything but if there is anything to take away, it is definitely that it was rather humorous and enjoyed by those in attendance. I found myself chuckling a few times at the delivery of some of the lines. Short but excellent.
Next up we had Peep by Jodi Gray as performed by The Magazine Studio Theatre. Britney Parody plays May and Hannah Mifsud plays Caitlin in this two woman show. I rather enjoyed this one and the performances were captivating from start to finish. I had never seen it so it surprised me. A dark horse of the week, in my eyes.
Lastly we saw what ended up winning the Drama Festival in Fade To Light by Bayside & Westside Drama Group. It is very easy to say that their win was justified but it truly was. The cast was incredibly well put together and nailed their roles to perfection, Julian Felice plays an astrophysicist in Professor Docherty who goes all over the world to explain that an imminent supernova is about to hit Earth. The rest of the cast, notably Kaigan Garcia did a great job as did Sylvana Felice, Nikolaj Forrester and Natalie Bonavia. My stand out of this production was definitely towards the end when Carmen Anderson belted out and acapella the popular Streets classic Dry Your Eyes. She nailed it and was incredibly fascinating to hear.