Over the summer, a cast of Oundle School pupils
rounded off their school drama careers in style with
their production of Just at the
world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
The pupils returned to Oundle in early August
for rehearsals before travelling to Edinburgh for seven nights of further
rehearsals and performances at Paradise in St Augustine’s, just off the Royal
Mile in the heart of the Fringe.
Just, a play by the Booker nominated
writer Ali Smith, originally commissioned for the National Connections
Festival, is a dark comedy whose political themes are couched in the absurdist
traditions of Kafka, Ionesco and Brecht. At the centre is a corpse impaled with
an umbrella, a blind judge, townspeople who speak in a comic chorus, an
amnesiac maloprop cop, and a passionate outsider mourning an agrarian age.
Their story is one of personal tragedy, the perversion of justice, a
community’s sinister undertone, told with Ali Smith’s trademark wit and
Play director and Oundle School English teacher,
Andrew Martens, commented, “After working
so intensely as a group, the cast formed a tight unit and gave consistently
stellar performances to appreciative audiences, including many current and old
Oundelians in Edinburgh for the festival.”
Kemsley-Pein commented, “Just was certainly
a challenging play to work on. It is far from run of the mill and as a result
we had to really push ourselves and think outside the box in terms of how we
were going to portray our characters and our interaction with others onstage.
The political nature of the play is thought-provoking and encouraged us to
consider the wider effects of imbalances of justice and power. I’m sure I can
speak on behalf of the whole cast, when I say it was an unforgettable week in
When not on stage, the pupils enjoyed the Royal
Mile and other areas packed with festival-goers, handing out fliers to
prospective punters, and soaking up the atmosphere of such a unique cultural
experience. Everyone took full advantage of the vast opportunities to enjoy the
wealth of theatre on tap, and by the last night each pupil had seen at least 20
different shows over the course of the week.
by Andrew Martens, the cast included pupil leavers Robbie Younger (18), Livvy
Sellers (19), and Georgie Anstey (18), with current pupils Emma Kelmsley-Pein
(17), Alex Wallitt (17), Monica Dahiya (17), Annabelle Sherwood (17), Dylan
Martens (16), and Polly Halstead (17) as stage manager.
Livvy Sellers will be starting a course at Central
Drama School later this year.