Unpacking the dramas that energise a class of budding young actors, The Rehearsal mounts an enticing inquisition of performance, identity and moral anxiety with resonance far beyond its hothouse setting. James Rolleston vanishes into the part of Stanley, a naive newcomer drawn to the city by his passion to make it on stage. While his new best friends indulge in wilder stuff, gentle Stanley tentatively romances 15-year-old Isolde (Ella Edward). His sweet dreams may have found their nemesis in Hannah (Kerry Fox), the schools grandstanding senior tutor. Students must deconstruct themselves, she contends, before they can play at being anybody else. Stanley gradually bends to her taunting style, until, in one of the dazzling turns that stud the film, he earns her applause with a hilarious, treacherously accurate impersonation of his salesman father. Even murkier waters await when his class decides that a sex scandal involving Isoldes older sister should be intensively researched for their end-of-year show. With Michelle Ny, Marlon Williams and Kieran Charnock providing vivid support to the young principals, The Rehearsal carries a potent extra-textual charge: theres enough talent in this fictional drama school to constitute a real-world new wave.
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