Tuesday, March 10, 2015



Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre


While Shakespeare's company was staging Much Ado About Nothing at their new Globe, their rivals, the Admiral's Men, were packing the Rose across the way with this “city comedy”.
Very different entertainments. Dekker gives Londoners a play set in their own streets, with local references and characters. It's 'Allo 'Allo humour, with catch-phrases, funny foreigners and fart jokes.
The setting is a cavernous Romanesque church, with buttresses, beams, angels and demons, a rose window and chandeliers. Bells ring out around the Swan auditorium.
Phillip Breen's lively, lusty production promises “naught but mirth”, advertised in the prologue, deliciously done by the strolling players, fronted by their boy. But there are deeper, darker moments, notably when the French wars are foreshadowed at the close, and the company freezes as the lights fade.
An excellent company, led by David Troughton's Falstaffian Eyre, with Vivien Parry as his spouse. Their finest moment when they appear as two Holbeins, Henry and Elizabeth [and does her bum look big in that] after their elevation to Lord Mayor. Josh O'Connor is Rowland, who spends most of the play pretending, hilariously, to be Dutch. Daniel Boyd is the journeyman Ralph, conscripted for those same wars. And Jack Holden makes the most of the King, done here as a playful, boyishly affable chap.
Possibly Henry V, who may well have been playing the other face of the same wars over the road in the Wooden O ...

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