Professional theater behind AF’s curtains

An old play's comeback in modern life. Lundagård's Florencia Larrosa has seen Lust's hilarious performance of Charley’s Aunt.

Title: Charley’s Aunt
Milo de Sainte Marie
Kleia Sidira
Brandon Thomas
Original performance:

Charley Wykeham (Lauri Eckle) and Amy Spettigue
(Marta Pawlowska).
Photo: Ella Neller

It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon when I head up to AF Borgen to see Lunds Student Theater’s (Lust) latest production, Charley’s Aunt. I’m excited, I’ve read a bit about the play beforehand and it sounds promising. “A comedy, that’s always nice” I think, considering the amount of time I spend watching sitcoms. But what I don’t know, as I’m getting closer to the student theater, is that what I’m about to experience is a whole new level of humor. 

Charley’s Aunt (originally written by Brandon Thomas) is, in a nutshell, about two friends, Charley Wykeham and Jack Chesney. They ask a third one, Lord Fancourt “Babbs” Babberley, to impersonate Donna Lucia D’Alvadorez, Charley’s aunt from Brazil, since she’s unable to chaperone the lunch the boys had planned with their beloved Amy Spettigue and Kitty Verdun.

Charley’s Aunt, which was first performed in 1892, seems to have already everything to make you fall out of your chair, but somehow Lust makes it better. One of those reasons is because Lust’s representation is way more modern: the director, Milo de Sainte Marie, and the producer, Kleia Sidira, explain at the very beginning that they chose to adapt the original script to 1920, only 30 years later, so that the humor would fit more our society nowadays and so that the female actors could play better roles. Which I, as a feminist, was delighted to hear.

Modernism is present from the moment one sees Tove Lindmark (they, them) playing Jack Chesney. The original play was first performed by cis males since other genders were not welcome on the stage, so I think that it was very clever for the director to make an untraditional casting. Besides, Lindmark´s interpretation is delightful, Chesney is one of the characters that has the most lines and they deliver all of them with such grace that I almost forget I’m at a student theater. But Lindmark’s professionalism is not an exception: all of Charley’s Aunt’s cast made me think I was at Dramaten instead of AF Borgen. 

Jack Chensey (Tove Lindmark) and
Brasset (Daniel Willfors).
Photo: Ella Neller Photo: Ella Neller

One of my favorite characters is Brassett, played by Daniel Willfors, who, with his gestures and facial expressions, steals the show every time he comes in. But I can’t possibly enhance only one specific performance since I find that every performer in this play fits like a glove into their roles. It seems that their personality matched perfectly the part they were playing. If you were to tell me that, for instance, Eleonore Verant is actually like Kitty, I wouldn’t doubt it for a second. And the same happens with Anton Grandi and “Babbs”. Are you telling me that they are actually different from their characters? I wouldn’t believe it. 

The lighting, the costumes, the set, the chemistry between each character: everything was of such a high quality, despite some minor technical problems (some lights were twinkling at the beginning of the play). In the time I’ve lived and been a part of student life in Lund I’ve managed to see several performances and, even though I was never disappointed, I’ve never seen something that comes as close as Lust’s. And I could keep listing many points to explain this, but I’m running out of space, so I’ll try and sum it in one simple phrase: whoever thinks that students can’t make professional theater is awfully wrong.