The Rehearsal, directed by Alison Maclean

The Rehearsal is released nationwide on 18 September

poster_the_rehearsalThe Rehearsal is guaranteed to bring back all of your awkward teenage memories. And it is one of the best coming-of-age films I have seen in a long time.

Set in a drama school simply called ‘The Institute’, The Rehearsal tracks the life of Stanley (James Rolleston) as he becomes part of the churning-out-actors system, led by head tutor Hannah (Kerry Fox). Her focus is on getting the young actors to forget themselves, and open themselves up to being vulnerable.

Stanley meets a 15-year-old girl, then re-meets her by chance while role-playing one day, and tentatively starts a relationship with her. At the same time, we learn of a scandal at a local tennis club, where a coach has been carrying on with one of his students – as it happens, Stanley’s girlfriend’s old sister is the student. Stanley’s group has to create an end-of-year project, and as they have independently learned more than most about the scandal, they decide to create the play about this.

The script is spare, letting the young actors meet the challenge in a natural, off-the-cuff way. While I haven’t read the book (ok I admit it) I understand from the friend I attended with that the movie is different, and that this is a good thing. The use of a tennis club to open up the settings seemed an excellent way of bringing light into the movie, and contrasted well with some of the grimier spaces the movie lurks in.

The thing I enjoyed most about the movie was the humour. It wasn’t all drama students ranting and raging across the stage, and memorialising their darkest hours. From being a drama-type student at High School, mid-production things did get a little dark, and this was reflected accurately. But it was genuinely funny, though I noticed sometimes I was the only one laughing…

The final set-piece was superbly done, and served as a chance for some of the actors to look straight at the camera in farewell. I highly recommend going along and seeing this when it comes to a cinema near you  when it comes out on general release on 18 September.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

The Rehearsal
Directed by Alison Maclean
Script by Emily Perkins and Alison Maclean
based on the novel by Eleanor Catton (VUP 2008, ISBN 9780864735812)

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