Explosively good ‘Gargantua’ performance at St Benedict’s
20 July 2012
St Benedict’s School presented ‘Gargantua’ by Carl Grose on three days in the last week of the summer term to provide a fitting finale to the school year. This was the annual Middle School Drama production, acted out by the younger pupils from Form Three (Year 7) to Lower Fifth (Year 10). Director John Padden showed his usual skill in enabling pupils to become completely transformed and to utterly absorb the audience.
Inspired by Rabelais' equally enormous novel, ‘Gargantua’ is an absurd comedy that combines the epic with the domestic, high concept with low comedy, and the grotesque with the heart-felt. Mr and Mrs Mungus have just had a baby. Unfortunately, it isn't the bouncing blue-eyed boy they were hoping for... After a two-and-a-half year pregnancy, Mini Mungus has birthed a monster - one with an accelerated growth rate and an insatiable appetite for anything that moves. But when a gaggle of sinister military scientists, intent on cloning an army of giant babies extract Little Hugh's DNA, he breaks his chains and escapes. The world can only watch in horror as he embarks on learning how to walk and then on rampant destruction.
English teacher Julie Greenhough enjoyed the performance. “Shock and horror has never been better portrayed than via General Malahyde (Buck Joly de Lotbiniere) and the ‘mind melt’ of the Prime Minister (Charlie Sloboda-Bolton). The action was described via the actors in a sequence of riveting narrative time shifts. Mrs Mini Mungus (Eloise Fouladgar) and her doting husband (Matthew Carr) played the proud parents to Hugh Mungus - the biggest baby in the world. Deft directing saw the audience helping at the birth until the village became ‘like Bethlehem but without the camels’. Minimalistic props and setting placed the focus firmly on the actors. I was impressed by Catherine Bench’s growing ability as a comedic character actor, in the role this time of Regina Buxley, as well as Agents’ Allbright, Starhammer and Blackstone (Eden Comins, James Porter and Pierre Goualin) nod to ‘Men in Black’. Like the nuclear bomb that eventually destroyed both Hugh and the Northern hemisphere the play was explosively good.”