Saturday, September 27, 2014


Shakespeare's Globe

The groundlings were well placed to appreciate the exotic body art on view in this otherwise slightly disappointing look at the story [half fact, half fiction] of what happened to Fletcher Christian and the other Bounty mutineers.
The play, which opened in Chichester, transfers well to the outdoor arena, though polystyrene rocks that look realistic under lights risk looking more artificial in the cruel light of day.
The space is well used, with actors rushing in through the yard, and much banter between the crowd and the innocent, ingenuous Tahitan women who're brought along to found a utopian colony, turning over a revolutionary "virgin leaf". Shades here of Lord of the Flies, and Our Country's Good, but strangely lacking in drama and credible characterization, despite the efforts of director Max Stafford-Clark – plenty of violent incident in the second half especially – and a strong young cast. The women have the toughest time – speaking like debs when talking their own language, lapsing into pidgin to converse with their husband/captors. Despite their guileless talk of orgies and sexual entertainment, there is little to frighten the horses here.
Tom Moreley is the troubled Christian, with excellent support from Ash Hunter as the hypocritical quadroon Ned Young, and Naveed Khan as the native slave who does most of the dirty work.
The counter-factual ending [hinted at in the opening] is interesting, though the revenge of the dusky maidens is not convincing historically or dramatically. Richard Bean's play is clearly the result of much historical and anthroplogical research. But though there is rarely a dull moment, with music, movement and conflict of all kinds keeping things moving, we never feel a part of history in the way that we do with, say, Anne Boleyn or In Extremis.

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