REVIEW: A Pupil (Park Theatre) ★★★★

Park Theatre hosts the world premiere of A Pupil, a new play by Evening Standard Award nominated writer Jesse Briton, exploring music, success and friendship through the unlikely connection of a young aspiring musician and a once world famous violinist.

The action is set in a run down bedsit where Ye is preparing to end her life when Simona crashes into her private world demanding to be taught. This entitled daughter of a Russian billionaire drags Ye out of her misery, pushes her to her limits and forces her to reflect on what makes a talented musician as they embark on a series of classes, butting heads and egos until they reach a grudging respect for one another.

A Pupil stars a strong female cast. Lucy Sheen is Ye and brings the anger and sadness of a fading star painfully to life. Flora Spencer-Longhurst plays Simona, treading the fine line between stroppy spoiled teenager and a young girl desperate for friends.She also shows her talent for playing violin.

Ye and Simona are supported by Mary (Melanie Marshall), Ye’s hymn-singing Christian landlady, both disappointed in Ye’s life choices and keen to bring her out of herself, and Phyllida (Carolyn Backhouse), a friend of Ye’s from music college who has become Head of Strings at the college which Ye sees as selling out. These characters help the audience to get under the skin of the main relationship.

A Pupil is directed by Jessica Daniels with live original compositions by Colin Sell alongside familiar violin pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Debussy and others. The set makes use of many violins hung from the ceiling and live music performed beautifully by Spencer-Longhurst.

The story shows three older women that have made very different choices in their lives alongside a young woman trying to find her place in the world. There is some good writing and engaging performances to be seen here that makes this worth a trip to Finsbury Park.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Meurig Marshall

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