Saturday, August 01, 2009


The Lord Chamberlain's Men at the Greville Theatre Club


“Oberon”, just in front of us, had bottled ale, a popular tipple for Tudor playgoers.
Not so sure about the Malvern Water, the Mumm and the Moet. But there was no mistaking the festive nature of this memorable evening.

The Greville Theatre Club had decided to celebrate their 50th birthday by getting someone else to do the entertaining. They went for the best of the touring players, the Lord Chamberlain's men, an all male troupe taking Shakespeare to historic settings.

This year's production is that “improbable fiction” Twelfth Night. As we saw at the Globe a few years ago, this play especially gains from having boys play the girls. Shaun McKee as Viola soon dons the breeches for Cesario, and we relish the double confusion. The wooing scene was superbly done here. Only seven players, so some impressive doubling: Mawgan Giles, for example, managed both Orsino and Maria ! Mark Martin was an upper class twit of an Aguecheek, as well as Sebastian, and Tom Micklen was Antonio, the captain, and a hippy-ish Feste, who sang to his pipe to start the show, and brought a mellifluous melancholy to its close. Malvolio [Paul Brendan] wore a silly hat and a pained expression, with Joe Marsh as his mistress Olivia. The coarse Belch was played with some restraint by Conner Williams.

The verse speaking, and the complex plot, were commendably clear, with many of the less comprehensible lines cut, and the three levels of the portable stage provided good sight lines and swift entrances and exits. The extra songs were relevant and robustly performed.

Martins soared overhead, the church bell tolled the hours as evening fell. This ancient space, bounded by the barn which is the Greville's home, the church and a row of cottages, made this fine production a very special occasion for those of us lucky enough to be there.

Twelfth Night was directed by Andrew Normington.

1 comment:

John Richardson said...

What a lovely open air setting for 'Twelfth Night' performed by The Lord Chamberlain's Men. Their imginative stage was perched on the lawns of Lt Easton Lodge with the church in the background. This made it very apt when there was a reference to 'yond church' (sic) !

The weather stayed fair, much fairer than for 'Midsummer Night's Dream' over at Castle Hedingham on Tuesday. Although people had started to put on fleeces and shawls by the interval, isn't this something you expect in an English summer ?

Played it as it would have been in Shakespeare's day, with men performing both male and female roles the seven 'lads' played with great vigour, interchanging roles swiftly and seamlessly. Delivery of all the smutty double entendres and punning, which would have appealed to the groundlings who originally watched the plays (and us !), reminded me of how to deliver an 'awful' line in pantomime - you just hammer it home and make people groan (or laugh)
This is the first time I have properly appreciated a 'live' Shakespeare play .. and went over to tell them so after the performance ! Have to say that I enjoyed it much, much more than the Castle Hedingham 'Midsummer Night's Dream' earlier in the week (see my comments on that earlier 'review')

Post a Comment