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Posted by : RodDungate on Sep 18, 2016 - 04:12 PM RSC
Stratford Upon Avon
THE ROVER: Aphra Behn
5Star*****

RSC: The Swan to 11 February 2017

Runs: 3h, one interval
Tkts: 0844 800 1110
www.rsc.org


@TheRSC

Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 17 September 2016

Bold, brash and . . . a revelation

THE ROVER is a complex plat – both in plotting and in the way its themes of love and sex are explored. Aphra Behn was writing during the Restoration yet the style seems to look back to the Caroline. However, the overt examination of sex and sexual behaviour links it firmly with its Restoration brothers. Except there's one gigantic difference, this play is definitely written from the women's point of view.

It is also much funnier than you think. It's not that Loveday Ingram (the director) and her team have made it funny, more that they have brilliantly enabled the comedy to work – and with a bite. Moreover, most of this humour stems from the fact the men are such prats. Four men (possibly four and a half), testosterone driven, with language to match, chase their lovers never doubting for a moment that they have the upper hand. But of course, they never have, these glorious women are in the driving seats.

With amazing confidence, Aphra Behn explores love in many lights – capitalist commodity, power, duty, religion and occasionally with breath-taking cynicism.

The modernity of Behn's examination has us chuckling, laughing, and gasping with surprise. Th

The story is difficult at time to follow the narrative moves at a breathless pace; but this itself catches the wildness of the carnival setting and the madness of the society.

Strong performances all round. Joseph Millson creates a Willmore changing his truths with lightening pace, creating a most unlikeable character that we are happy, in the safety of the drama space, to like and laugh at. Faye Castelow is a splendid Helena, able to out-man the men and more than a match for the Captain as she accepts nothing less than equal terms and respect. Alexandra Gilbreath, as the courtesan Angelica, frequently refocuses the play's debate and has a firm grasp on both our attention and emotion.

Ingram has thoroughly understood this play and all its resonances. Deftly she has created a production that is revelatory, it also reaffirms that plays are meant, not to be read, but seen.
Stephano: Joe Allen
Callis Sally Banes
Phillipo: Ashley Campbell
Helena: Faye Castelow
Blunt: Leander Deeny
Angelica: Alexandra Gilbreath
Sancho: Chris Jack
Adriana: Lena Kaur
Babion: Patrick Knowles
Biskey: Leon Lopez
Moretta: Allison McKenzie
Florinda: Frances McNamee
Willmore: Joseph Millson
Valeria: Emma Noakes
Belville: Patrick Robinson
Astrea: Danusia Samal
Don Pedro: Gyuri Sarosssy
Aminta: Eloise Secker
Lucetta: Kellie Shirley
Don Antonio: Jamie Wilkes

Director: Loveday Ingram
Designer: Lez Brotherston
Lighting: Tim Lutkin
Music: Grant Olding
Sound: Fergus O'Hare
Movement: Nichola Treherne
Fights: Terry King
 
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