We open with The Merry Wives. Shakespeare's fattest and naughtiest knight, Sir John Falstaff boozes and romps his way through the bedrooms and bars of the English countryside. Reimagined in a Hampshire village in the 1950s, this production is stuffed to its gills with music, laughter and a fondly drawn picture of country life. The Merry Wives is the perfect way to pass a summer's evening with a glass of wine and tears of laughter rolling down your cheeks.
Then we welcome Macbeth. This is the Festival's first tragedy and this extraordinary 1930s version, promises to be unmissable, shocking and quite quite unforgettable. With fire, sacrifice and blood, the production slashes open the dark heart of Shakespeare's most visceral tragedy with violence of thought and deed. You will never have seen a Macbeth like this and as night falls across the performance space so the murderous passage comes to light. Do not miss this gut wrenching and heart-stopping show.
A merry tale of marriage, love and affairs at festival
The Merry Wives, 16 July 2014
This comedy of love, marriage and affairs was successfully transplanted from the Tudor court to the Fifties for this year’s festival. What I really like is the clarity – of diction and in telling the story – as stated in the aims of the festival, it’s accessible Shakespeare. Ste Johnson as Falstaff was excellent as always – particularly his interaction with the audience, stealing food and drink, hiding under picnic rugs and comments such as “you’re going to need a zoom for this one love!” But the standout performance for me was Chris Hollis as jealous husband Mr Ford, especially when in disguise, dressed in Chris Emery style false teeth and plus-fours. Katie Solly was wonderful as the gossiping go-between Mistress Quickly, Suzanne Debney as Mistress Ford and Harriet Benson great fun as the two housewives, plotting revenge on Falstaff. Adam Thomas brought his wonderful energy to the part of Slender, while Norman Stewart played Simple as, well...simple. Jamie McCormack was hilarious as the pompous Dr Caius the Frenchman, and Jennifer Quinn as the Cockney landlady kept a cheeky knowing grin throughout.
By Kat Wootton
Published in the Petersfield Post, 23 July 2014
Eerie, spellbinding Macbeth brings festival to a fine close
Macbeth, 23 July 2014
From the start, a sharp-suited man carrying the bodies of three white-dressed girls with bandaged wrists and pale faces, one by one and laying them on the ground, this play gripped the audience and held it spellbound. Set in 1930s/40s with stunning costumes and eerie, haunting music, this version, directed by David Jackson and Izzy Foley, had witches played like the angry ghosts of civilians killed in war – ropes creating invisible walls, their constant sinuous swaying mesmerising. Well done Freya Hollis, Zoe Munday and Georgia Green. Chris Hollis was a suave, sinister Seyton (Satan), handing out daggers, ropes, and champagne with equal ease, Simon Mackarness made a fine and kindly Duncan, Banquo was played by a gruff, straight-talking Eddie Webber and there was good support from the rest of the cast as soldiers, nurses and heirs. Ed Taylor-Gooby played Macbeth as a weak, panicked man, while Suzanne Debney was edgy and brittle as Lady M – the confident, sophisticated hostess with a thin veneer. The Macduff family, played by Ben Gander, Katie Solly and young Crispin Glancy, were superb, and Ben’s speech about the death of Macduff’s children had me in tears. A great production.
By Kat Wootton
Published in the Petersfield Post, 30 July 2014