On Friday 27th January, Mermaids put on its first performance of the semester, this year's Freshers Drama Festival production Remembering Molly, written and directed by PhD student Wylan Wang and produced by PhD student Jerson Lapetaje. It follows lifelong friends and researchers Annie and Ollie as they decipher whale songs, their fascination with lonely whale Molly prompting a journey of grief, friendship and human connection. Molly, who calls at a frequency not heard by other whales, seems to serve as an affecting metaphor for the isolating experience of depression. However, she is still heard by Annie and Ollie, encouraging the audience to realise that they are never truly alone, no matter how low they feel.
Whales were a striking yet original and engaging means of exploring the nature of human isolation and loneliness, believed to be one of the few animals aside from humans who attempt suicide. Wylan referred to the play as his “love letter to the present”, using the process of writing the play as a means of therapy and catharsis. It was eminently evident on all levels of the production that this was a true passion project for those involved.
Acting was strong across the board, however, special mention must go to Poppy Kimitris, who particularly excelled in her emotional monologues in her portrayal of Molly, and Lila Patterson, who skillfully embodied the troubled but intriguing Lizzy and shone especially in some of the play’s most distressing scenes. The interpretive dance sequences throughout were a definite highlight, offering a chance to reflect on and absorb the difficult issues raised. The calibre of the cast was complemented through the effective set and lighting choices of Megan Teal and Katie Gallacher, which expertly distinguished between land and ocean, creating a visually engaging and dynamic viewing experience for the audience.
The cast and crew were admirable in overcoming the problems that unfortunately arose in the run-up to opening night, with dropouts in major roles just a week prior to the show’s debut. Whilst this did mean some cast members required scripts on stage, all actors adapted well and this did not significantly distract from the immersive nature of the performance.
The play came to a poignant finish with writer Wylan encouraging students to reach out for help if they need it. Remembering Molly certainly showcased the power of theatre to function as an avenue for emotional release, both for those involved and those fortunate enough to witness such a tender and intimate feat of amateur drama. After a stellar start, The Saint looks forward to another semester of Mermaids productions.
To witness more of the very best that student theatre at St Andrews has to offer, details about future Mermaids performances can be found on their Instagram and Facebook pages. If you’re interested in attending the next Mermaids production, tickets for Lost in Translation are available for 5th-6th February at the Barron at the Byre at 7:30 pm. Please visit the Union website to purchase your tickets https://www.yourunion.net/events/societies.