Thursday, 12 May 2011
After rehearsals we all went over to Richmond Theatre to see Shared Experience's touring version of Bronte. The show's been on the road for a while now, but I was keen for The Canterbury Tales crew to see how a different company handled adaption and in particular how the actors managed the transition from first person acting to third person narration and back. It also gave us a chance to support the company, after they had their arts council grant completely cut in the latest settlement.
In many ways I found the show rather slow. After the initial premise that fictional characters can impress themselves on their own author's behaviour, every bit as much as the author manipulates the character is understood the plot seemed to spiral rather than develop, especially as recurring physical motifs patterned our understanding the demise of the sisters and the slow lingering Yorkshire deaths to which they each inevitably succumbed. Behind the cleverness is a real sense of three young women trying to create themselves in a way that would both fulfil their emotional lives whilst avoiding confrontation with the patriarchal forces represented by their aging father and drunken brother. A strong basis for a play for sue but with the cards on the table early there were no alarms and few surprises to enrich the two and a half hours. In some ways the work harked back to a conceptual theatrical language that excited twenty years ago, but felt rather incongruous and even implausible in our more pragmatic times.