"This experimental new piece will fuse elements of naturalistic dialogue with poetry and audience participation"Poster/ Ella Burns

Written by Emma Robinson, LOUD is the winner of the inaugural Cambridge Creatives New Writing Prize. This experimental new piece will fuse elements of naturalistic dialogue with poetry and audience participation as it brings its audience inside the mind of Alex, the protagonist. I spoke with co-director Ralph Jeffreys and the actor playing Alex, Oscar Griffin, about their upcoming staging of this fresh new piece of student writing.

Oscar’s Cambridge theatre debut as Alex has been no small task. He described the process of getting into the character as both very natural and very difficult. I learned that through audience participation, Alex will challenge the audience and bring them out of their comfort zone, which Oscar said goes against that very relatable actor’s instinct to play to the audience and get along with them. It was apparent that the role of Alex is a very personal one to Oscar, who told me that he was basing his interpretation of the character in part on his own experiences. Although not explicitly characterised as neurodivergent, Alex experiences sensory overload, and so it’s very important to the team that the character they portray is not a clunky collection of clichés, but rather a genuine person. This desire was summed up nicely when Ralph said that they didn’t want to create another Sheldon, in reference to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, a character that has been criticised as an old fashioned portrayal of a neurodivergent person. 

"The play's themes of humanity and compassion are universal"

LOUD is a show that will take its audience into the world of the main character, aiming to provide us with a brief window into Alex’s headspace as they deal with grief. The vulnerability of the protagonist has been a difficult one for the team behind LOUD to get right: Ralph mentioned that the line between making the audience feel necessarily uncomfortable and going too far is a very important one to respect. Interestingly, in taking steps to make sure that this show does not go beyond challenging its spectators in a healthy way, the story has had to express its complexity and engage the audience without relying on shock-factor and spectacle. How does a show shock its audience without jumpscares and strobe lighting? Both Ralph and Oscar seemed confident that the script is subtly engaging, and that it is all the better for that subtlety.

"As a prize-winning script, the show has already won its first accolade before opening night"

Over the course of our conversation it became quickly apparent to me that this wasn’t going to be a traditional piece of theatre, and I immediately began to think of the long string of student productions that set out to break the boundaries of the medium. I asked Ralph and Oscar if they thought there was a risk of LOUD leaving its audience behind, and they explained that there is nothing in the show that is not in there for a reason: there are no pretentious flourishes just for their own sake, and the play's themes of humanity and compassion are universal. Indeed, as a prize-winning script, the show has already won its first accolade before opening night - which is surely a testament to the quality of the writing.

As Oscar said, this isn’t Shakespeare - but it doesn’t pretend to be, LOUD sounds like an invigorating experience that is certainly worth trying. Both Oscar and Ralph are clearly enthusiastic about the production they have made together, and it’s hard not to be infected by their excitement!


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LOUD is playing at 9.30pm at the Corpus Playroom from the 15th to the 19th of February and is the winner of the Cambridge Creatives New Writing Prize this year.