by Moira Buffini.
Brockley Jack Studio 410 Brockley Road SE4 2DH To 23 March 2013.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 8700 887.
Review: William Russell 5 March.
This is a first-rate production of Moira Buffini’s celebrated play. Set in the Middle Ages, it is a story for our times as Ymma, a Norman princess sent to England by her brother as a punishment for being of an independent mind, is forced by English King Ethelred the Unready to marry a fourteen-year old Cumbrian princeling called Silence, only to discover something is not quite right about their union.
It is a time when the world is out of kilter and marauding Vikings are laying the land waste. All sorts of issues are raised – the place of women in a man’s world for a start, and the liberation of gender reversal. The play, funny, exciting and thought-provoking, has been skilfully staged by director Jon Bradshaw with a minimum of props – a handful of trunks and some cushions standing in for royal beds and the carriage in which Ymma’s party head for Silence’s castle – and he has secured fine performances from the entire cast.
It is a kind of theatrical version of a road movie, one of those stories in which an ill-assorted group of people on a journey rise to events – or not. Ymma, who seems at first to be an hysteric, has good reason for the rages she cannot control, and Silence’s secret, when it finally is revealed, changes the dynamics of the group for ever.
The soldier, Eadric, sent by the king to watch over them, is in love with Ymma; the priest, Roger, has doubts about his faith and falls for Ymma’s maidservant Agnes, who proves to have a mind of her own, while the King turns out to be a mass murderer worse than the Vikings he finally summons-up the courage to try to deal with.
Ymma: Brigid Lohrey.
Agnes: Lainey Shaw.
Eadric: Patrick Neyman.
Silence: Samantha Beart.
Roger: Theo Maggs.
Ethelred: Daniel Brennan.
Director: Jon Bradshaw.
Lighting: William Ingham.
Sound/Composer: Thomas Gray.
Fight director: Jonathan Leverett.