The final AUB Productions show of the year saw a winter-horror adventure full of otherworldly characters and unsettling forces.
Performed from 30 November–2 December in the AUB Studio Theatre, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, directed by Tamsin Fessey, tells the story of two young girls – Bonnie and Sylvia – as they’re left with a governess in the great house of Willoughby Chase to survive against gothic characters and wolves.
For many of the BA (Hons) Acting students, this performance was their first time being part of a large-scale production, as Shayla Elliot-Lee explains:
“I was shocked at how collaborative the production process was, which heavily relied on the director’s style. We worked as a company to create a whimsical story, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase saw collaboration between a great variety of courses and skilled creatives, with costume, set designers and make-up artists to name a few, along with a unique atmosphere and gothic aesthetic from lighting and sound design.
It was also Lily Barbara’s first time acting in a large-scale production, playing one of the main roles:
“I did some method acting, read children’s books, watched children’s series that I watched as a kid, and Lucy (Sylvia) and I had handshakes that we’d do before rehearsals to awaken that playfulness. I allowed myself to laugh more in rehearsals to make myself feel like I was in a really fun setting.
“Horrors are effective this time of year because you expect your typical Christmas holiday play to be joyful, so to have a horror goes against what you might expect.“
Another interesting factor was the reversal of genders, with the character creation of Lady Willoughby and actors playing the opposite sex, providing an interesting challenge.
“Working as the inspector was very fun, I had to work a lot with Lewis (Mrs Brisket), with us being each other’s parts to help us learn how men and women would flirt and interact in the scene (we were both playing the opposite sex),” Jennifer Jones says.
“I also used more of our animal studies from first year, deciding the inspector was a penguin and I used that to develop his posture and movements.”
Overall, the show was a delightful mix of darkness, humour and vivid storytelling that brought AUB Productions’ series of shows to a spectacular end for the year.
As actor Avery Kirin, who played Miss Slighcarp, explains, “The original Grimm fairy tales very rarely ended happily, and I think it’s an important reflection of how everyday situations very rarely end with the good and bad people uplifted or punished accordingly.
“In some ways, this piece acted as a palate cleanser, leaving audiences equally scared and excited.”