Review: The Canterbury Tales, Southwark Playhouse

“Welcome one and all to the Tabard Inn”

I love a tankard, especially one full of mulled wine on a chilly winter’s evening, and so I was most pleased to be able to get one at the Southwark Playhouse. Not in the bar though, but in the main house itself which has been converted into a working medieval tavern for a production of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The yarns have been adapted for the stage by Tom Daplyn and Tacit Theatre into modern language to give their examinations of the many aspects of human behaviour greater currency for today’s audience in this piece of story-telling theatre.

Director Juliane von Sivers and the creative team have further broken the mould by aiming for an immersive experience with the show. We’re all punters in the Tabard inn – Cara Newman’s design puts the bar at one end and has the seating in the round circling a raised stage – and the team of seven actor-musicians form the entertainment, working through six of the stories and interleaving them with some rowdy tub-thumping (though perhaps a tad anachronistic) sing-alongs. The combined effect is thus one of a genial informality, a beautifully relaxed evening down the pub with a tapestry of stories being woven around us. Continue reading “Review: The Canterbury Tales, Southwark Playhouse”

Review: Snake in the Grass, The Print Room

“We can’t live in a caravan”

Snake in the Grass is the London premiere of this Alan Ayckbourn play which is a rarity in itself as it marks one of his forays away from his more usual comedy. It is described by Ayckbourn himself as ‘a ghost play’, but it is more obviously a psychological thriller, threaded through with recognisable hints of class struggles and flashes of mordant humour. Directed by Lucy Bailey, who with Anda Winters have converted this Notting Hill warehouse into one of London’s newest new fringe venues, The Print Room.

Set in the grounds of a large country house, the play follows two sisters who are reunited after 20 years following the death of their authoritarian father. Annabel escaped her father’s clutches to Tasmania only to find new devils there, whilst Miriam stayed to care for their father but was driven to extreme measures. Finding themselves back together and then visited by a vindictive former nurse of their father’s who was dismissed, they find themselves having to deal both with the haunting ghosts of the past and the psychological threats of the present. Continue reading “Review: Snake in the Grass, The Print Room”