[REVIEW] Balm in Gilead

By Joe Young - Deputy Culture Editor

Last night, I had the fortune of seeing one of the most unusual, most engaging, and most emotional plays I have ever seen. The 2nd Year students on the BA (Hons) Acting course invited Pluto along to watch their performance of Balm in Gilead, and I was not disappointed.

Set in a late night diner in New York City, Balm in Gilead is a semi-ensemble based play, with two larger roles but a wide ensemble of characters who all bring something unique and special to the piece.

It opens with a very strange air guitar-drums-lip sync performance, which unsettled me as a reviewer as it was definitely not what I expected. It quickly transitioned into the grotty realism you’d expect from a piece in such a setting. The two large roles, Joe, a small time drug dealer, and Darlene, a naïve newcomer to NYC were well performed, with it definitely feeling like I was watching real people and not actors. The entire cast all added something special to such a hectic piece, where every member of the cast spoke over one another at some point, and all vied for my attention in a compelling manner.

A special notice of performance goes to Callum Taylor, whose role of Franny, a transvestite prostitute, echoed the experiences that similar people in reality would have felt in a tactful, but at the same time very witty manner. Additionally, the performance of Ann by Rachel Howard, who often spoke directly to the audience, provided a fantastic frame of the play similar to that of Linzi Hateley in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

This was a fantastic piece, and I feel privileged that I was given the opportunity to go – if you are going to see one play this year, make it this one.

5 Stars

Balm in Gilead is running until the 13th May. For tickets, go to https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/adpevents.

About Joe Young 316 Articles
Joe Young has been involved with student media for a very long time now, holding posts within The Pulse, and Pulse Radio, as well as the predecessor of The Pulse, Pluto. He is currently Politics Editor of The Pulse, and Head of News of Pulse Radio. In 2016, he won the Media Award for Best Article for his coverage of the Fishergate Shopping Centre bomb scare.

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