Home Theatre REVIEW: Henry I on the Studying Abbey

REVIEW: Henry I on the Studying Abbey

REVIEW: Henry I on the Studying Abbey



The ruins of Studying Abbey, within the shadow of Studying Gaol, present an ideal setting for historic drama. If the partitions may discuss, they might have some tales to inform, and you’ll think about Oscar Wilde peering out of his cell bars into the ruins. Rabble Theatre led by Toby and Dani Davies are based mostly in Studying and are making a behavior of telling native tales, so the Life and Occasions of Henry I (1068-1135), the youngest son of William the Conqueror, who based the Abbey, and many individuals consider is buried within the grounds is an ideal match. Beth Flintoff’s play is a simple chronological docu-drama of his life which at occasions seems like it’s based mostly on Wikipedia. In British historical past, we’ve little familiarity with occasions between the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the unintentional dying of King William Rufus in 1100 within the New Forest and the muse of the Abbey in 1121, so the play gives an enchanting perception into political and social challenges within the intervals in between.

They describe themselves as presenting “bodily theatre” and Flintoff’s construction features a pleasant mixture of authentic medieval chants and music, extremely efficient dance sequences, immersive parts drawing the viewers into the story and clambering up and down the two-level set. The route by Hal Chambers creates a high-energy, participating expertise with some beautiful comical moments and splendidly choreographed full-on struggle scenes. The script doesn’t shrink back from the brutality of Medieval England with rape, eye gouging, pushing an enemy off the tower and leprosy depicted. Flintoff provides a feminist perspective with Adele, Countess of Blois, a stunning efficiency of earnest authority from Amy Conachan who makes the case that females might be rulers but in addition argues, “males make wars, ladies make the longer term”. Henry’s spouse Edith performed with attraction and nice stage presence by Georgie Fellows can be depicted as sensible, well-educated and a power to be reckoned with. The one time the script falters is when Henry and Edith (also referred to as Matilda) turns into narrators of their very own story to cowl a passage of time, though often phrases soar out as too fashionable like “I’ll write a ebook about it”, or “Prefer it, I like it”.

Henry is performed by Rabble founder Toby Davies, and he conveys the curious combination of traits properly. He’s a heroic fighter, seen usually in fight in opposition to his enemies, ignored inheritor, a philandering misogynist, with a string of illegitimate youngsters all given profile, a caring husband, a petulant brutal ruler and at last a damaged man. We see his temper swings and whereas we could not like his actions, we usually stay sympathetic to his dilemmas and responses. Much less along with his brother Robert Curthose (performed with a sneer by Mark Middleton given Normandy by his dying father however a relentless dissatisfied and cowardly determine who moderately surprisingly departs on the Crusades. The third brother, the youthful William Rufus performed by Gabrielle Shepperd steals each scene together with her energetic strutting, posturing and alluring staring eyes and continues her eye-catching efficiency when she returns as Henry’s son William in Act 2. She additionally emphatically and dynamically leads the very best dance routines to depict among the nice moments of drama within the story.

For all of the brothers’ faults, the villain of the story is Robert De Belleme performed in black (with protecting knee pads!) by Greg Barnett and looking out like he is likely to be an ancestor of the depraved Sheriff of Nottingham within the tales of Robin Hood. He is a continuing thorn in Henry’s aspect from the primary encounter when he rapes the Miller’s spouse (Georgie Fellows appears to have a tricky time in a succession of appearances and have to be relieved she will get to shine as Edith!). You marvel why Henry simply didn’t kill him on the first alternative. The power for good all through is the pious and dependable Roger (Joseph Black) who goes on to be Bishop of Salisbury. 

The present may be very properly dressed utilizing some well-chosen regal leggings, nice tunics, sweeping trains that clearly distinguish each standing and the character’s persona and amusing curly sneakers. The lighting comes into its personal because the solar units and provides to the atmospheric conclusion following a dramatic burning fortress and dramatic White Ship sinking. 

Collectively the play provides an insightful glimpse into the brutality of Medieval England, the squabbling nobles and royal household who fought to seize energy, marriages of political comfort moderately than love and the emergence of a nationwide identification away from the Norman/French roots. Henry I’ll not have created the memorable legacy of British monarchs that adopted like Henry VIII, Charles II or Queen Victoria however he could have laid some foundations and as he factors out “at the least he constructed the abbey”. There may very well be no extra becoming place to find out about his life than by this play in kits ruins. It runs to 1st July earlier than visiting Winchester Nice Corridor and Covent Backyard.

Evaluate by Nick Wayne

Ranking: ★★★★

Seat: Stalls | Value of Ticket: £29



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