Tuesday, June 28, 2016

COMPLEAT FEMALE STAGE BEAUTY

COMPLEAT FEMALE STAGE BEAUTY
CTW at the Old Court
28.06.16


To the Old Court, there to see a play in which theatre folk did portray their own kind.
The true history of the last of the boy actors, and of the first woman to appear on stage, told in nineteen tableaux, sometimes separated by gloomy silence, sometimes happily linked by Mags Layton's lively fiddle.
Mr Hart depicted one Ned Kynaston, Green Room hermaphrodite and famed Desdemona. Excellently done, with a most impressive presence. Spurned by his lover, reduced to capering before the coarse crowd at the Cock Pit, he finds salvation in tutoring his rival [strongly played by Mrs Barnes] in the art of dying.
Two superbly stage-struck women in the persons of Pretty Witty Nell [Miss Woodgate] and seamstress Maria [Miss Dunmore]. Mr Stemp gave us his Betterton, ornament of the London stage, Mr Piper a painted, lisping Sir Charles. The Merry Monarch was pleasingly personated by Mr Tree, besotted with his Nell, both of them charmingly cross-dressed for the Court theatricals.
Sam Pepys the scribbler, inseparable from his gigantic journal, was portrayed by Mr Powis.
Pretty panelling, a stylish painted park, mock marble columns and flickering candlelight mightily maintained the illusion of stage and town; thunder and birdsong were ingeniously produced, and at the close we had a bawdy catch to encourage our applause.
I left the theatre richer by one firm, ripe orange, and wiser in the ways of Restoration nobles, ladies, bawds and thespians.


for the Chelmsford Weekly News:


A colourful company, on a superb panelled stage set, to tell the story of Edward Kynaston, the Beauty of the title. He made his name playing Shakespeare's women, until that merry monarch Charles II decreed that only actresses should take on Juliet, Cleopatra, Desdemona and the rest.
CTW field an impressive cast: Philip John Hart as the androgynous Ned, Emily Barnes as his rival Mrs Hughes, Caroline Dunsmuir as his maid Maria, Kevin Stemp as his boss Betterton, Corinne Woodgate as a pert Nell Gwynn and, as the merry monarch, Mark Tree, who was also responsible for the d├ęcor. Not to mention Samuel Pepys, George Villiers, Charles Sedley, the violinist, Mistress Revel and many more.
An entertaining romp through Restoration London, sumptuously dressed and spectacularly directed by Christine Davidson.

If you missed it at the Old Court, it's travelling to the wonderfully atmospheric Ingatestone Hall, where it plays on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of July.
Tickets from www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres or call the Civic Box Office on 01245 606505.


and at Ingatestone, for the Brentwood Weekly News:



Van Dycks stare down as Chelmsford Theatre Workshop move into the panelled gallery of Ingatestone Hall to tell the story of Edward Kynaston, the Beauty of the title. He made his name playing Shakespeare's women, until that merry monarch Charles II decreed that only actresses should take on Juliet, Cleopatra, Desdemona and the rest.
CTW field an impressive cast: Philip John Hart as the androgynous Ned, Emily Barnes as his rival Mrs Hughes, Caroline Dunsmuir as his stage-struck maid Maria, Kevin Stemp as his bombastic boss Betterton, Corinne Woodgate as a pert Nell Gwynn and, as the merry monarch, Mark Tree. Not to mention Samuel Pepys, George Villiers, Charles Sedley, the violinist, Mistress Revel and many more.

An ideal setting for this entertaining romp through Restoration London, sumptuously dressed and spectacularly directed by Christine Davidson.




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