"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Monday, April 13, 2015
Globe Theatre at Temple Church
John, once prized for its patriotism and its pageantry, is not so
often staged these days, Indeed, it's taken the Globe nearly twenty
years to put it on – the last of the canon to have a production
Carta is the spur – and this joint production with the Royal &
Derngate Northampton is being seen in the Temple Church, in
and in the
Holy Sepulchre Northampton, all
sites closely associated with the flawed
Temple Church proves
a stunning setting. We enter through the ancient round nave, with
hooded figures chanting a Requiem for Richard, candles and incense
around the recumbent effigies.
Dacre's largely traditional staging is exciting and engaging, the
the text spoken with clarity and passion. The
raised stage at the east end has three star-speckled ceiling cloths
The lighting [by Paul Russell] is wonderfully effective at
supporting the real candles surrounding
the acting area, which extends down the nave, After
the funeral, a Magnificat, the first of several, for the crowning.
Commotion, hammering on the west door as the French envoy arrives to
start the plot proper. There are
battles, blasphemy, a nuptial mass and all the “industrious scenes
and acts of death”, underscored by “dreadful drums” and the
excellent music of Orlando Gough.
Stone-Fewings [a notable RSC Bastard back in the day] is a terrific
king – shades of Henry V. Tanya
Moodie is magnificent as Constance –superb
stage presence and impassioned delivery, notably of the “grief”
speech in Act III. Joseph Marcel is outstanding both as the envoy
Chatillon and the scheming papal legate, Barbara Marten imposing as
the old Queen Eleanor.
Waldmann makes a chirpy Bastard, commenting cynically on the action,
though in this company, in these surroundings, he struggles to
connect intimately with his audience.
memorable theatrical occasion, given an extra dimension by being
acted out in the very church where John met his barons before Magna
Carta – which does get a fleeting mention in this version, in the
king's “scribbled form and parchment” speech as he dies in the
Swinstead orchard. After the Temple Church, Northampton Holy Sepulchre and Salisbury Cathedral, the production is home at the Globe. A very different experience: some of the sense of occasion, atmosphere and spectacle is lost, but intimacy, and connection with the audience is hugely enhanced. Alex Waldmann's Bastard is in his element, sharing his thoughts with the groundlings and re-christening a confused Hervé ... Good to see the musicians on stage for Orlando Gough's score; the cruciform layout is retained from the church performances.