Shell Plays 2016
The most striking thing about this year’s Shell plays was the variety. Who would have thought that the common theme of ‘A stitch in time, saves nine’ could have been interpreted in so many different ways? Indeed, in some of the plays, the interpretation was so ingenious that the connection with the proverb was tenuous to say the least, but at the end of the day, none of that mattered. What was important was not only the sheer joie de vivre of the occasion, but the very clear evidence of much hard work and rehearsing going on in the preceding weeks.
The purpose of the plays is certainly to entertain, but there is an ulterior motive as well, namely to bond a House year-group of Shells together and to enable them to build a positive relationship with their Lower Sixth. Although this does not necessarily show on the day, it was very clear during the final rehearsals that the Lower Sixth from every single House had succeeded in both aims.
We were treated to some fantastic (and fantastical) themes, ranging from Cowell’s play about Alan Turing’s dilemma to the plight of nine trapped Disney princesses from Avenue; from an HMs’ meeting to discuss protein supplements by Apsley to a distraught Putin bemoaning the fact that he has killed Batman from Tilly’s. A Field House reunion in ten years’ time goes horribly wrong, an English essay from a Sing’s Shell has an unexpectedly bloodthirsty end and a lads’ night out from Kendall ends, as might be expected, in tears because they did not take the plays’ theme to heart – while their Corfe counterparts are saved from disaster because they did.
There were some great one-liners, including a future Stephanie Jobs (Eliza McCrum from Mac’s) being told her judgement was ‘iClouded’ by a sparky and sparkly Fairy Pixel (Ella Morris), a very topical Donald Trump (Joey Feather) in Tilly’s performance declaiming repeatedly ‘We have to build a wall’ and Mrs Hedgehog (Felix Able) from Sing’s with her plaintive cry of ‘ Har-o-o-l-d’ as she lies dying and about to be eaten by the improvident and hungry Mr Bear (Nick Sawyer). It’s harder to list individual outstanding performances because there were so many that were very good but we all especially enjoyed Laurence Omulen as Mr Chitsenga in Apsley’s ‘The Issue’, Tiggy Jones as Granny Crystal in Oakthorpe’s ’My Best Fiend’, Lily and Daisy Helling as the bickering ‘ugly sisters’ along with an outstanding performance from Bella Link as the wicked step-mother in Jubilee’s ‘Cinderella?’ and Ben Neville as the boring teacher in Segar’s ’No Laughing Matter’.
The judges (the Warden, Dr Gallagher, Mr Creed and Miss Fullelove) awarded prizes as follows: Best Script, Mac’s; Best Direction Sing’s; Best Costumes, Tech and Props, Apsley; ‘Spirit of the Shell Plays’ Award, Avenue; Runner-up, Jubilee; and Best Performance Overall, Segar’s.
Assistant Head Co-Curricular