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Sunday, 13 June 2021

REVIEW: The Comedy of Errors at the Roman Theatre, St Albans

It’s not often you get to see a Shakespeare play in a theatre that pre-dates the Bard himself, but The Roman Open Air Theatre Festival provides that rare opportunity. A tale of twins and mistaken identities, this reimagining of the famous Shakespeare comedy fuses a modern setting with Elizabethan language and a handful of karaoke classics. 

As the story begins, we learn through a beachfront puppet show that two sets of twins are separated by a storm at a very young age. The play then goes on to see how these sets of twins happen by the same town at the same time and are repeatedly mistaken for each other to the utter confusion of themselves and the townspeople. The strange and silly plot allowed director Matthew Parker many freedoms that may have been more difficult in any other Shakespeare. 

The use of physical comedy and farcical tropes brought an additional layer of comedy and energy that invigorated the show. The performers handled this with dexterity and brilliance, really embodying the pace and the tone. 

Sunday, 28 March 2021

REVIEW: Trestle, presented by the Maltings Theatre in St Albans

The Director Matthew Parker was due to stage this play at the Maltings Theatre in November 2020 but Covid 19 delayed it so that it became this streamed version from the venue. Like him, I saw Trestle at Southwark Playhouse in its world premiere in November 2017 and enjoyed Stewart Pringle's play which won the Papatango new writing prize. The play explores how an older generation choose to live their lives through the developing relationship between Harry and Denise as they meet each week in the changeover from one use of the Yorkshire Village Hall to the next over twenty-one episodic scenes. 

It becomes a sort of Groundhog Day experience as each of the first twenty scenes explores the relationship at the weekly changeover of the Billingham Improvement Committee which Harry chairs and the middle-aged Zumba class which Denise leads. We never meet the rest of the committee or the class attendees and therefore the action is restricted to the five minutes or so between bookings and the removal of the trestle table used by the committee. In each scene, we learn a little more about their lives outside the village hall. 
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