The Graduate, Hostry Festival review: ‘Fast-paced with some really juicy scenes’

The Graduate is the central production at the Hostry Festival 2019 Credit: Mark Ivan Benfield

The Graduate is the central production at the Hostry Festival 2019 Credit: Mark Ivan Benfield - Credit: Archant

It's that time of year again, and Norwich Cathedral is the focus for a buzz of arts activity. From talks to performances and small scale opera, the Hostry Festival is brimming with Autumn treats.

Norwich Hostry Festival 2019 launch night. Credit: Simon Finlay

Norwich Hostry Festival 2019 launch night. Credit: Simon Finlay - Credit: Simon Finlay Photography

One of this year's highlights is The Graduate directed by Stash Kirkbride.

Controversy defined Mike Nichol's famous film, which focussed on an older woman seducing a college graduate. People flocked to see it.

In 1968, it hit $35 million at the box office in the first six months.

Today, it takes a good deal more to shock. So just what is the draw of a story like this now, why put it on the stage?

Rehearsals for The Graduate Credit: Mark Ivan Benfield

Rehearsals for The Graduate Credit: Mark Ivan Benfield - Credit: Archant


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Never mind the era, these are well observed characters and Terry Johnson's script has subtlety and wit.

The lines have a wonderful music that chimes out in live performance so much more than on screen.

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This is an adaptation of an adaptation - Charles Webb's novella came first, then Buck Henry's screenplay - so it's certainly a danger that the play could merely echo the original intensity of the story.

Quite the reverse. The show offers us the luxury of some really juicy scenes between mother and daughter which never took place in the film.

Rehearsals for The Graduate Credit: Mark Ivan Benfield

Rehearsals for The Graduate Credit: Mark Ivan Benfield - Credit: Archant

Despite being wordier than its screen counterpart, the pace seems quicker.

READ MORE: Line-up announced for Hostry Festival 2019

Kirkbride directs with panache bringing out some lovely performances from his cast and Chris Neal in the central role of Benjamin is oh-so-watchable.

He brings the same understated humour to the part as Dustin Hoffman. Tracy Catchpole as Mrs Robinson is mesmerising, and her daughter, Elaine (Olivia Bourne) pitches it just right as she navigates her way to a happy ending.

Rehearsals for The Graduate Credit: Mark Ivan Benfield

Rehearsals for The Graduate Credit: Mark Ivan Benfield - Credit: Archant

It's a clever satire on Beverly Hill's life of the 1960's, that even dips into Billy Wilder's film noir Sunset Boulevard: Mrs Robinson is the glamorous femme fatale as reinvented for the Swinging Sixties.

So here's to you, Mrs Robinson - and what a great night out.

The Graduate runs From October 21 to 26 and tickets cost from £10 to £15, which can be purchased at hostryfestival.org, by phone on 01603 598676 at the Theatre Royal in person.

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