The first week of December brought with it a chance to travel back in time, to witness the cruelty of the Romans and the extraordinary resilience of the Celts - all from the comfort of LEH's very own Jane Ross Theatre.

This year's production followed the story of the warrior queen, Boudica (portrayed by sixth former, Natasha Syed) and the countless hardships which she endured following the invasion of the Romans. Newly-widowed and robbed of her land, Boudica and her two daughters (played by Holly Low and Sadie Connolly) travelled far and wide, enlisting the help of old friends and foes in a bid to take back what is rightfully theirs.

LEH students had been transformed into sword-wielding, armour-clad soldiers, their costumes courtesy of Gwen Brown. Millie Edwards also did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life, adding facial hair and stomach-turning gashes to the faces of this year’s cast. A cleverly constructed set of wooden structures were wheeled around the stage; they were multi-functional, sometimes aligned to replicate a typical Roman wall, sometimes forming the domain of the British rebels. The attention to detail was unparalleled.

The fight scenes were particularly enjoyable to watch. The girls threw themselves into them, landing well-rehearsed blows to each others’ shields. I spoke to Cheshmeh Deljouie, 16, who played one of the soldiers, Sestus. She described learning those moves as ‘really exhausting’ as you had to constantly repeat the same ‘fight sequence over and over again’. This process, no doubt, took up much of their 90 minute-long rehearsals. But, Cheshmeh confessed that it was ‘really fun’ to do something perhaps a little different from what previous LEH productions have entailed. 

But it was the individual performances of those up on stage which really gave the play that element of realism. A trio of Lower Sixth actresses (consisting of Niamh Campbell, Cheshmeh Deljouie and Karina Zakharyan) kicked off the night with a sequence of vulgar dialogue, capturing the true essence of idle, Roman soldiers with absolute ease. Natasha Syed’s performance was also exemplary as she managed to somehow channel the determination of a headstrong leader into her acting, while simultaneously demonstrating Boudica's grief from losing her husband, her anger at losing her territory and her agony while taking her own life. She was vulnerability at times which provided us with an interesting and unique insight into what such a formidable woman might have felt in such a difficult situation.

There were moments which left the audience in horror - moments of assault, abuse, torture. One unfortunate soldier had his tongue cut out before our very eyes which had us all grimacing in unison. The candid manner in which each and every moment was executed shocked us all; it helped to show how normal such occurrences were back in that time period, particularly the objectification and cruel treatment of women. As well as being highly entertaining and suspenseful, ‘Boudica’ was a real eye-opener, all pulled together by a wonderful cast and crew.