The Sea Queen by Daniel Winder
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare.
The Scoop, County Hall, London SE 1 2AA to 1 September 2018.
The Sea Queen: Wed- Sat 6pm Mat Sun 4pm. Twelfth Night Wed-Sat 8pm Mat Sun 6pm.
Run 50 mins and 90 mins respectively. Weather permitting.
FREE. Just turn up.
Review: William Russell 15 August.
On a fine summer’s night the open air theatre at the Scoop, a specially designed amphitheatre beside County Hall, can be an enchanting diversion and the new occupants, Iris Theatre, who have staged open air theatre in the gardens of St Paul’s, Covent Garden, are no strangers to the difficulties. Everything depends on clarity of speech and sound and just how much noise the neighbours make. On press night the weather was kind, but the sound system was either having problems or the cast were having difficulty speaking clearly – an awful lot was inaudible, some of what was audible was incomprehensible. This is a pity because past season here have been quite delightful,one of London’s summer treats, so one can only hope last night’s sound problems were purely temporary and things will improve. The opening play, The Sea Queen, also suffered from some dense real or assumed Irish accents.
The Queen in question is Grainne O’Malley (1530-1603), a girl determined to go to sea, who ruled the waves off the West coast of Ireland and had a famous meeting with Queen Elizabeth to seek a pardon – he had been sentenced to death for piracy – for her brother. Stephanie MacGaraidh makes a nice flame haired pirate and there is a statuesque and well spoken Queen Bess from Veronica Beatrice Lewis. It is a pleasing enough trifle, but going on about not sending women to sea, which Grainne’s father does, is a bit odd when most of the seamen she is going to sail with are played by women. This was the play’s world premiere.
Twelfth Night, cut down to 90 minutes, sped along briskly but the Malvolio plot was badly handled – the famous line about getting his revenge on his tormentors dropped like a stone into a shallow puddle when it ought to echo ominously over the marital celebrations taking place. The clarity of sound had improved by this time, the cast ran briskly about, Feyesa Wakjira was a delightfully gangling Aguecheek, George Caporn and Melanie Gleeson were sufficiently look alike as the twins Sebastian and Viola to let the plot about mistaken identities proceed, although just why the Duke was in such a bad mood delivering the opening If music be the food of love speech was far from clear.
There is also a new gender bending ending created by director Rae Mcken which probably ensures that there is a happy ending for, if not Malvolio, the spurned sea captain Antonio who is madly in love with Sebastian and gets ditched at the end for Viola. The audience laughed, the sun went down, the walls of county hall and the tower blocks behind spring into glowing life in the darkness and it all made for a pleasant enough evening although the concrete benches even with a cushion are bum numbing and the stairs down raise issues of health and safety which County Hall really needs to address. Bannisters are needed.
In time Mcken will surely get to grips with the hazards of open air theatre, which here include external noise – there is a drinks bar in front of the arena, an ice-cream kiosk and a burger bar all doing a roaring trade and the roaring did affect the players’ audibility. But, when all is said and done, it is Free theatre and you do get something for your nothing.
The Sea Queen
Conor: Tim Bowie.
Donal: George Caporn.
Bingham: Melanie Gleeson.
Essex/Young Tracer: Acushla-Tara Kupe.
Aderfi: Fayesa Wakjira.
Queen Elizabeth: Veronica Beatrice Lewis.
Sean.Lady in waiting: Heidi Lynch.
Grainne: Stephanie MacGaraidh.
Dubhdara/Cecil/Senior: Lorenzo Martelli.
Tom Butler: Ifoya Osagiede.
Orsino:Tim Bowie: Orsino.
Sebastian: George Caporn.
Viola: Melanie Gleeson.
Feste: Acushla-Tara Kupe.
Sir Andrew: Feyesa Wakjira.
Maria: Veronica Beatrice Lewis.
Olivia: Heidi Lynch.
Antonio/Priest: Stephanie MacGaraidh.
Sir Toby: Lorenzo Martelli.
Malvolio/Sea Captain: Ifoya Osgiede.
Director: Rae Mcken.
Set & Costume Designer: Mayou Trikerioti.
Lighting Designer (Twelfth Night): Jamie Platt.
Composer & Sound Designer: Matthew Bugg.
Costume Supervisor: Mady Berry.
Fight Director: Dan Styles.
Vocal Coach: Mary Howden.
Production photographs: Liz Isles.