First Night Triumph
by Andy Fawthrop
Images used with kind permission of Chris Watkins Media
Again it was a real pleasure to bowl along to our town’s little theatre and to enjoy a wonderful opening night. The fare on offer was that Mr. Shakespeare’s tragi-comic offering Measure For Measure……
To be honest, it was (many) years since I’d last read or seen a performance of this often neglected play. It just doesn’t get wheeled out as often as those wonderful chaps Othello, Hamlet and Lear. I wonder why that is? Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t quite plumb the emotional and tragic depths in the same way as those giant figures? Or perhaps because it’s not as funny as the classic comedy capers we see in Midsummer Night’s Dream? Or maybe tragedy and comedy don’t mix together too well in the same play?
Notwithstanding these difficulties, Liz Sharman’s production made light of such concerns, and a competent and well-drilled cast delivered an excellent opening night performance to a near-full theatre. The themes of corrupt power, of vice vying with virtue, of hypocrisy and double dealing remain as a relevant commentary on the political events of today, to say nothing of the resonance of the #MeToo movement. In this case, of course, The Bard of Avon ensures that all is wrapped up well at the end, where deception is uncovered, virtue is rewarded and the criminals are punished. If only that happened so neatly in real life.
Using a sparse black set, a simple staircase and a gallery, and little in the way of props or scenery, the focus was very much on the words and the actions. The only real exception was the frequent use of cloaks and hoods, a necessary device given that the plot hinges on disguise and deception. Pete Wallis as Vincentio, Simon Carter as Angelo, Paul Snook as Lucio and Eleanor Smith as Isabella all delivered their leading roles with great aplomb, but they were just as ably supported by stalwarts of the Wharf Lewis Cowan. Oli Beech and Tor Burt. And it would be churlish not to mention the old “rude mechanicals”, Ian Diddams as the bawd Pompey and Lesley Scholes as the prostitute Mistress Overdone, whose exaggerated comic performances gave the show that comic lift that it occasionally needed. It was worth the entrance money alone to witness the bizarre shirts worn by Ian.
All in all, a great ensemble performance from faces both new and familiar. Well played!
The show runs until Saturday, so I urge you to go and see it. There are still just a few tickets left, available via The Wharf’s website.
Future productions at The Wharf Theatre:
Sat 1st April Open Day at the Wharf
Sat 15th April Walk On Back To Happiness
Mon 8th – Sat 13th May The Railway Children
Sat 20th May Jack & Jordan Sketch Show
Fri 26th/ Sat 27th May Having A Baby
Thu 8th – Sat 10th June Watson & Brown Little Big Band
Sat 24th June California Dreams
Thu 20th – Sat 22nd July Girls Like That
For all information about The Wharf Theatre and its productions go to www.wharftheatre.co.uk
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