Cardenio – August 2011


By: God only knows

Directed by: Gregory Doran

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Wednesday 24th August 2011

It was good to see this again, and as I suspected, we got a lot more out of it, mainly because we had a much better view. From the front row, no less, which led to some unexpected audience participation on my part.

The dialogue was easier to hear too, so I understood Luscinda’s arguments much better during her first scene with Cardenio. I enjoyed the way she kept trying to speak and he kept talking over her, especially as he then found his father doing the same thing to him when he tried to broach the subject of a possible marriage with Luscinda. It took a little time for the audience to warm up, I felt, but we were soon laughing at the humour, especially when Fernando was strutting his stuff. Mind you, there are parts of this play where the humour isn’t clear, and occasionally I felt the audience was a bit quiet, but overall we seemed to give the actors a decent enough response.

It’s hard to tell from such a different angle, but I suspect the performances have come on a bit since June. I didn’t spot any specific changes, but the storytelling seemed a bit sharper all round, which usually happens with experience. We were talking with our neighbours during the interval about the risks the front row audience run of finding someone in your lap, or some similar event, and then there was an extended struggle in the second half with several actors throwing themselves round the stage quite vigorously. I found myself thinking that they actually rehearse these bits thoroughly so that there are no accidents, and then I realised that Cardenio himself was lunging towards me, restrained by two other characters, and ended up with his hand just a couple of inches from my throat. I was surprisingly calm about the whole thing – Steve tells me I didn’t even flinch – and I felt honoured to be this night’s ‘victim’.

With more familiarity, the only part of the play where I thought Shakespeare might have had an influence was the scene where Dorotea, disguised as a boy, unknowingly reveals her plight to the concealed Cardenio and his two helpers (this was just after he attempted to strangle me). It was a moving scene, with typical Shakespearean features, so I wouldn’t entirely dismiss the Shakespeare DNA concept, but I’d still need much better evidence to believe it.

© 2011 Sheila Evans at

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