Young in age, but precocious in talent, the cast of fifteen actors stood proud and commanded the stage with their strong ability to project, act with a great emotional range, and move around effortlessly, all with unrivalled energy.

Louis Sutherland (Steve Richards), Haris Myers (Sean Harding)
and Andrew Morrin (Culpepper)
CREDIT: Robert Day

Britain, Birmingham and the 1970s are the three themes of The Rotters’ Club, by Jonathan Coe. This era remarked huge transitions in the city, both in terms of landscape and in its culture. However, the tensions were felt the heaviest with growing unease in Northern Ireland. It was a time where bombings were witnessed in pubs and lots of protests over views of racism, fronted by the National Front.

The Rotters’ Club is set in a grammar school, where the secondary school students discussed and displayed their views of the world, un-tabooed. From sex to music, the characters were openly sharing their curiosities and not holding back on terms and phrases to describe them.


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It is hard to pin-point outstanding performances, for every actor showcased brilliant moments which gave the piece an extra edge. Anna Bradley, playing Claire Newman and Miriam’s sister, showed natural flair with stagecraft. She spoke with great diction, and took the audience on a journey with the different obstacles that her character had gone through, from acting in love to projecting the feeling of grief. Miriam’s role was very challenging, as it was about a teenager falling in love with a married man and its repercussions, of which led to her tragic ending. Jasmin Melissa Hylton did a superb job at playing her, with charms of a teenaged girl in love, mixed with desperation and paranoia – fantastic contrast.

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Charlie Mills (Ben Trotter) and Yusuf Niazi (Phil Chase) CREDIT: Robert Day

The boys did a phenomenal job, in particular Charlie Mills with his well-rounded portrayal of Ben Trotter whose ordeal stretches to changing room embarrassments to making ripples in his school for writing such a scathing review of the school’s production of Othello, all with charm and eloquence; Doug Anderton was the political-strung and ring-leader of the boys, with him being the one to come up with new ideas, and this was played by Adnahn Silvestro. Adnahn had great comedic timing and the scenes where he got angry or had to stand up for himself were brilliantly acted. Finally, Haris Myers, who not only played the student Sean Harding to a professional standard, but multi-part played with skills that were admirable and funny as hell, at some occasions he brought the house down, particularly when he enacted a blond girl that Doug had met in London.

 

The Rotters’ Club plays at The Birmingham Rep