Cardenio – September 2011

8/10

By: ???

Directed by: Gregory Doran

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Monday 12th September 2011

This production has simply got better and better and better with practice. The story-telling tonight was crisp and clear, the humour still good although I felt the audience laughed less tonight, and the whole show has an extra sparkle to it. I do hope they get a chance to do it in London, but with the 2012 festival events piling up, and no information on transfers, I don’t know when they’ll fit it in.

Re-reading my previous notes, I see I haven’t mentioned the set before. It was fairly simple, and therefore pretty good. A set of iron railings crossed the stage at the back of the thrust, and these could be opened, shut or folded back to create different locations, such as the mountains or a nunnery. And that was it. One or two props and pieces of furniture, including the coffin that Fernando tries out for size at the start of the play, and it’s all down to lighting and acting. How wonderful.

There was a carnival procession which covered the setting up of Dorotea’s room and its removal – this was a fairly crude peasant affair, with two large dummies representing a man and a woman, with prominent gender-specific features. There was also a devil on stilts and another in a black costume with white markings – was it a skeleton? The pretend friars who carry the coffin in which Luscinda is abducted wore tall pointy masks, a bit like the Klu Klux Klan only in brown, and there was a trestle to put a large saddle on for one scene. For the most part, though, the stage was bare apart from the actors, who all did a great job.

It’s been fascinating to see a play like this three times, from different angles, and to see how it’s come on over the run. This has the feel of a very good ensemble, and even if we haven’t enjoyed all of the production concepts, it’s still been a good year. Well, the Swan reopening in itself would have been cause for celebration, and we’ve had three good plays in it to enjoy, so it’s been even better.

© 2011 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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