Review: Rent, Bilborough College

imagesBilborough College’s production of Rent was a powerful, emotional journey.

The show was absolutely bursting with talent, demonstrating not only the abilities of the cast, but also of the fantastic crew, as everything from the costumes to marketing was produced by the college’s year thirteen.

I enjoyed it immediately. As a member of the college myself and knowing a few of the people performing, I think it’s fair to say that I had never been prouder of them. I’m not being biased when I say that this was a pretty spectacular show.

Rent is noted for its fairly taboo themes, dealing with subjects such as AIDS, death and drugs, and the cast handled them with the care and emotion of professionals.

The production showcased some fantastic singing voices, notably those of Marina Papadopoulos who played Maureen, Harkiran Sahota who played Collins, and Catherine Davies who played Mimi. Many songs featured complex harmonies that sounded beautiful. Seasons of Love was especially moving, but other songs such as Out Tonight and Take Me or Leave Me, were also sung and performed brilliantly.

Mark and Joanne, played by Joel Walker and Ruth Paige, displayed an intense rivalry during the song Tango: Maureen, and both actors performed excellently throughout the show. Joel played the story’s narrator, an aspiring filmmaker, while Ruth played Mark’s ex-girlfriend’s new girlfriend.

Angel, a drag queen played by George Dawes, becomes the love interest of Collins who is played by Harkiran Sahota.

The scene following Angel’s death as a victim of AIDS becomes one of the most poignant when Harkiran sings the reprisal of I’ll Cover You alone, which they had previously sung together.

Dan Scott, who played Roger, demonstrated both his musical and acting talent as he portrayed a struggling musician who wanted to write one final song before he died from HIV.

His character was depicted with gripping honesty as he struggled to let Mimi, played by Catherine Davies, into his life whilst knowing that he was going to die. Catherine’s portrayal of Mimi was also honest and emotional, especially in the scene of her near-death.

Gareth Ellis played Benny, the landlord of his former roommates’ flat, with a coolness typical to the character.

The entire production was a joy to watch. I believed in all of the characters and found myself carried along with the heart-wrenching story. A huge well done to everyone involved in the show, which was superbly directed by Harris Allen and Merryn Novelle.

Tickets are still available for December 12 at 7:30pm in the Gilly Archer Theatre at Bilborough College. I highly recommend it.

By Bethany Morledge, a Bilborough College student and artsbeat reviewer