LOVE & OTHER FAIRY TALES
by Nick Revell
Scarlet Theatre to 17 November
Runs c70 minutes
Review Timothy Ramsden 28 July at Coventry Belgrade
Scarlet’s new show proves issues makes their mark in a context of character and story
It starts like a convocation of silly walks. Then you realise these medievally-garbed actors are miming riding. They’re pilgrims and the bloke who keeps trying to get their wandering attention is Master Chaucer. A pilgrims’ revolt against his tedious tale of Sir Thopas leads into the stirring tale of the Wife of BathThrough simple changes of mood, a tree pattern on scenery, gentle music, tactful changes in pace of movement and speaking, Grainne Byrne and Katarzyna Deszcz’s production leads out of the daily world trotting to Canterbury into the Arthurian mists of the Wife’s tale. Pilgrims become the Wife’s characters by a flick of costume. And the mundane becomes the fabulous.
Gradually, a third dimension opens up as Andrew Bridgmont’s self-assured Chaucer becomes fascinated by the marital history of Cindy Oswin’s knowing Wife. At first angry and suspicious he melts into understanding as Revell and his directors recreate love turning sour with a golden husband (her fifth) turning to a bully. Like a complex reflection the shades of her story mix with that of the rapist knight (Colin Michael Carmichael) who escapes the death penalty by solving a riddle which makes him realise how to value a woman.
Comic and lyrical, it’s a gem of a piece that wraps its point intriguingly through an intricate narrative.
At its opening date, part of the Belgrade’s Arts Alive festival (to 18 August, details 024 7655 3055), there was room to tighten several moments. Doubtless this will happen.