Jubilee: Peter Barnes
RSC, The Swan: Stratford
Running Time: 3 hours, One interval
Review Date:12th May 2001
Review By: Rod Dungate

An open-top bus tour of the all-for-profit Shakespeare industry

In 1765 Shakespearean actor David Garrick was given the freedom of Stratford and celebrated this with a Jubilee. Peter Barnes has used this to take a healthily cynical look at Bardolotry. His broadly comic, satirical and rather ramshackle play is a kind of open-top bus tour of the all-for-profit Shakespeare industry, with poisoned pen-nibs aimed at some notable present-day theatre grandees who have made significant piles of Bard lucre themselves.

By all accounts London society flocked to the Stratford jubilee (in which not a word of Shakespeare was spoken) and put the obscure Warwickshire town on the map. Local rustics immediately realised there was a quick buck to be made though the event was ruined by heavy rain – not much has changed!

All marvellous stuff for idiosyncratic writer Peter Barnes. The play is written as a series of short scenes which give different angles on the debate rather than dramatically moving the play forwards. Music Hall gags and songs freely appear. Some scenes are hilariously funny and have real point, though others are neither funny nor about anything. At these times the bus tour grinds to a painful halt. Director Gregory Doran skilfully keeps the play moving rapidly along, but he cannot solve this inherent flaw nor successfully unify the play into a satisfying whole.

Nicholas Woodeson (David Garrick) is a fiery ball of energy throughout with some moving reflective moments, Owen Sharpe is a dangerous squib as James Boswell and Carol Macready an entertaining, larger than life Society ‘madam’. Not to be missed are the two rustic shepherds, Amos and Ted Ackers: their grazing is lost to the building of a rotunda yet they build it because they want the money. Too late, they see the light and tug your heartstrings as they admit to ‘missing the sheep.’

Director: Gregory Doran
Designer: Robert Jones
Lighting: Tim Mitchell
Music: Stephen Deutsch
Sound: Martin Slavin

Ben Jonson: Geoffrey Freshwater
William Shakespeare: Paul Bentall
Rev Francis Gastrell: Michael Mears
John Ange: David Hinton
Thomas Sharp: Owen Sharpe
William Hunt: Geoffrey Freshwater
Francis Wheeler: James Telfer
Rev Jago: Trevor Martin
David Garrick: Nicholas Woodeson
Eva Maria Garrick: Kelly Hunter
Jack Grimes: Stephen Noonan
George Garrick: David Collings
Charles Macklin: Paul Bentall
Dr Samuel Johnson: Barry Stanton
Nell: Amanda Drew
Amos Ackers: Mark Hadfield
Ted Ackers: Wayne Cater
Mrs Ross: Carol Macready
Lydia: Amanda Drew
Charmaine: Elizabeth Hurran
Hermione: Angela Vale
Lord Dorset: Barry Stanton
James Boswell: Owen Sharpe
Charles Dibdin: Joseph England
Dr Thomas Arne: Michael Mears
George Steevens: Paul Bentall
Jimmy: Jack Gayler/ Calum Finlay
Bill: Joshua Vizor/ Calum Roberts
Jack: James Hoyle/ Paul Rothwell
John Payton: Drew Mulligan
McGurk: David Hinton

2001-07-28 16:36:20

ReviewsGate Copyright Protection