Thursday, May 31, 2012


Brentwood Shakespeare Company at Brentwood Theatre

It was Shakespeare's earliest play. It has the smallest cast. And frankly, it's not one of his finest.
Brentwood Shakespeare chose to set it in a garden, with Mozart muzak throughout – the al-fresco world of Fiordiligi and Figaro. This adventurous approach was easy on the eye, with some wonderful costumes, and it had several splendid spin-offs: Alan Ablewhite's lisping fop, Lindsey Crutchett's Restoration parvenue Panthina, desperate for her Proteus to better himself.
I wasn't convinced by Mark Griffiths' lumpen proletarian – certainly not a gentleman "and well derived" in the Shakespearean sense. But it did allow a nice contrast with Andrew Hewitt's supercilious Valentine, with his snobbish smile. Their girls were similarly distinct – Helen Sinclair's pert Julia [a splendid "Sebastian", too] and Natalie Sant's elegant Silvia, by far the best speaker of the verse.
Elsewhere there was sometimes a fatal failure to move the lines forward, and laughs were in short supply, though Elliott Porte, as a lugubrious Lance, working with Harvey, the stand-in Crab, delivered his speeches impeccably, while achieving a real rapport with his audience.
This charming, gently revolutionary comedy was directed by Vernon Keeble-Watson.

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