You may have gathered by now that I am not a film fan, so it almost goes without saying that I have never seen the well-known classic The Graduate. Yesterday evening was my first encounter with this much-loved story in its newest form at Curve Leicester and I have to say I quite enjoyed it.
The play is based on the novel of the same name by Charles Webb and the story remains largely unchanged since its release in 1963. The protagonist is recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock who is facing that all too familiar quarter-life crisis inducing question of “What are you going to do with your life now?”. I feel for him, I’ve been there. With no real aim in life, growing pressure from his parents and a failed plan to pack his bags and run away, Benjamin finds himself becoming seduced by one of his parents friends, Mrs Robinson. It’s all pretty plain sailing until he falls for Mrs Robinson’s daughter Elaine and unsurprisingly things aren’t quite so simple from there.
Curve is becoming well known as one of the UK’s leading producing theatres and this latest production doesn’t disappoint. Together with the West Yorkshire Playhouse and acclaimed director Lucy Bailey they have lovingly given this story a new and exciting lease of life. Being a complete Graduate newbie I found that the story flowed with ease and held my attention throughout, although the first act certainly felt long. The performance emphasised the comedic aspect of the story whilst maintaining a delicate balance with its more serious sultry side. Mike Britton’s gorgeously stylish set stays true to the 1960’s theme and although simple it perfectly transforms the space between scenes. Together with clever lighting, sound and projection the entire production feels authentic and intimate.
The cast is small but hugely talented. Jack Monaghan gives a strong and convincing performance as Benjamin and hollywood actress Catherine Mccormack plays the sultry Mrs Robinson with power and grace. Rebecca Charles, Richard Clothier and Tom Hodgkins were impressive as the parents offering whole-hearted emotive performances.
Having gone in with little to no expectations, I was very pleasantly surprised with The Graduate. I found the entire production to be incredibly well executed, gripping and hilarious. Curve have gone and produced another winner in my books.
If you’re interested in seeing this wonderfully intriguing play, you can catch it at Curve, Leicester until 10th June before it continues on to Malvern and Cardiff. For more information, head over to the Curve Leicester Website!
*Production Images by Manuel Harlan