Reviewed – 22nd February 2018
“The production created an exciting, modern aesthetic”
Last night I was invited to see the Hope Theatre’s in-house production of Foul Pages. Directed by Matthew Parker, and written by Robin Hooper, it was a wonderfully different take on the history of the Pembrokes, and the Countesses’ involvement in the production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
I entered into a very cosy theatre space, welcomed by the comforting sounds of a fire crackling, setting the tone for perhaps a slightly different play. The script managed to encompass the vibe and charm of a Shakespearean comedy, without stalling in its language, and was still unapologetically queer. This, along with the general aesthetic of the play, lent a contemporary feel to the production, largely due to the period inspired, modern fashion choices in the costume.
Chop, played by James King, brought an interesting aspect to the play, which at first I was dubious about, however I was quickly swayed by King’s relentless cheeriness, and cheeky chap aurora. Another cheeky chap in the cast, had to be Alex, played by Lewis Chandler, who encompassed the angsty emo theatre kid fantastically. His energy shone throughout the performance, as did his and the players’ chemistry together. I will say however, that some of the acting was a tad melodramatic; it would have worked in a much bigger space, but in this small theatre, it was overwhelming. This could be said for the transitions as well, which seemed out of sync with the rest of the production. There were a few moments that didn’t seem to ‘fit’ into the plot.
With regard to the story line, I became lost. There seemed to be an endless number of plot lines, many of which felt underdeveloped. The same could also be said for some of the characters – for example, the two female characters began very well, however soon descended into stereotypes. I think the script would benefit from a longer run time, and the audience would benefit from a short interval, if not just to get some air. This, I think, might help the pacing, as in certain areas the play seemed to stall.
All in all, I really enjoyed the play, despite the moments that were out of sync and, perhaps, the clunky pacing. The production created an exciting, modern aesthetic, without falling into the trap of butchering the Shakespeare language just for laughs. They still managed to get me to laugh out loud for most of the performance. It was a funny, enjoyable and unapologetically queer take on a rather unknown part of Shakespearean history.
Reviewed by Charlotte Hurford
Photography by LHPhotoshots
Hope Theatre until 17th March