A PUPIL at London's Park Theatre 90
Premiering at Park 90, a quasi studio space at London's Park Theatre which seats 90 guests, is Jesse Briton's 'A Pupil' directed by Jessica Daniels with music composed by Colin Sell. Performed in the round the setting is sparse, with a splattering of chaos consisting of discarded sheet music, violins suspended and random mess, mirroring the abandonment of hope and joy for Ye (Lucy Sheen) who at the height of her career as a successful and hugely talented violinist was injured in a car accident and now spends her days in her wheelchair, alone with suicidal thoughts.

In her life is her joyous landlady Mary (Melanie Marshall) who is a ray of sunshine in Ye's dark world. Forever hopeful and powered by her belief in a greater presence, she delights us with her renditions of Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam.

The play opens with dishevelled Ye attempting to swallow a cocktail of pills in her bid to escape her now meaningless existence. Like a broken violin, she is broken. It is then that 17 year old schoolgirl Simona (Flora Spencer-Longhurst) enters her life. A gifted violinist, self taught but undisciplined, she is required by her billionaire Russian father to audition for the Royal Conservatoire and has been sent to Ye to receive lessons to prepare for this. Simona is angry, defiant and friendless. Accompanying her is Phyllida (Carolyn Blackhouse), once a student with Ye and how a lead tutor at the Conservatoire. But has she abandoned her principles and love of music for an academic career?

And this is the gulf that exists for Ye. Greatness cannot and should not be taught or structured. It is inherent and must be given free rein and abandonment. She does not want to discipline the natural wonder of Simona but has she the right to deny her potential?

This is a complex psychological drama where relationships are formed, characters develop, bonds are created and self belief is demanded. The script can be ponderous at times and occasionally stilted but once we grow used to Simona's Russian accent and the brusqueness of Ye, we can immerse ourselves into this revealing production and the 90 minutes fly by.
 
There are some effects that will shock and shake you but there are also some delights, such as Marshall's singing and joyfulness and the exquisite violin performances of Spencer-Longhurst. Will you leave the theatre humming and skipping? No, but you will certainly have food for thought.
 
Photography: Meurig Marshall

A Pupil

Venue: Park 90 Theatre, Park theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP

Dates: 31 October - 24 November 2018

Performances: Mon-Sat evenings 7.45 pm and Sat Matinees 3.15 pm

Age Guidance: 14+

Access Performances: Dementia friendly performance Thu 15 Nov, 1 pm and Audio Described performance Friday 23 Nov 7.45 pm.

 Prices: Previews £14.50, Standard £18. Concessions £16.50 and under 16s £13. Young Patrons (to 7 Nov) £10. Groups, buy 10 tickets and get the 11th free.
 
Booking: 
www.parktheatre.co.uk or 020 7870 6876 (10% telephone booking fee capped at £2.50 per ticket)