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Pilgrims- play review (streaming)

Facing the uphill climb of even the hardest mountains to conquer turns out to be only a small fraction of the battle when it comes to Will and Dan. Having already successfully explored Everest at 18, their sense of adventure knows no bounds as they are determined to go a step further, on a path no other has taken before. Despite this, will their tale be a heroic one, or will their mentality suffer along the way?

The play begins with some immediate trouble striking, when Will (Kishore Walker) is struggling, while Dan (Tyler-Jo Richardson) is attempting to keep things afloat. Inevitably difficult to manifest on stage, it is clear that there is no magic involved with regards to transforming the space, which therefore detracts from the reality of the narrative, though it is evident that the Guildhall School students do their best with what they have.

Soon introduced as the love interest, Rachel (Boni Adeliyi) provides a questioning for the reasons behind each further action that the others take; their external invincibility is battered with the distraction of romance. Her character shows female strength, and creates an interesting dynamic, particularly when showing Will to be overly egotistical and somewhat manipulative- a big contrast to his weakness demonstrated at other points. The trust between them all is tested, as the piece flicks from the volatility of a hostile outdoor environment, to that of their inner, personal dilemmas in this play, written by Elinor Cook and directed by Georgia Green.

However, this production for Pilgrims was not overly mesmerising, and sometimes hard to make sense of. The effective use of lighting, designed by Rajiv Pattani, helped with the transitions, and the use of trap doors in the floor a nice addition, but the overall plot was lost in translation at points.

Touching on superstition and religion, alongside their feelings of exhilaration at the exertion of being a mountaineer, we follow their journey to search for the life they seek. With the two sweary friends constantly clashing personalities, yet showing resilience at times in need, they navigate big decisions, and try to figure out which story is the one they want to tell: to give up or to push forward.

This cyclical play may have potential, as the cast definitely do, but was sadly not as impactful as hoped on this occasion.

Image: © Guildhall School / Mihaela Bodlovic 2022


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