Shakespeare’s Mad Women
Reviewed – 11th June 2018
“a believable and intriguing world, inhabited by real characters”
This is Lady Garden Theatre’s first production, and I hope it won’t be their last. This darkly hilarious play, written by Abigail Smith, who also directs, takes us to a strange nowhere land inhabited by Lady Macbeth and Ophelia. They drink tea and watch, staring at a scene the audience can only hear, as Juliet spirals towards her inevitable demise. When she dies she joins them in their strange limbo. Gala Wesson’s Juliet is delightfully bewildered to find herself not dead, not with Romeo, and in the company of two strange women. She’s not about to accept that she won’t see her Romeo again. So they shut her in a cupboard until she calms down.
Throughout the play the characters experience flashbacks and speak the words Shakespeare gave them. This is done really beautifully, with the other two cast members going into a natural slow motion as the speaker relives her pain. Gabrielle Pausey is a feisty yet touching Ophelia, and I would love to see her play the role in Hamlet. She brings a freshness and believability to the Shakespearean text that is present during the whole play. Lady Macbeth, played by Holly Cuffley, has been in this limbo the longest, but even she can’t find a way to escape. There are some very funny bits of dialogue that had the audience in stitches and some excellent choreographed sections.
The only problem with the production was that way too much of the action took place with the actors sitting on the floor. In a theatre with hardly any rake this meant that they were often invisible to anyone not in the front row. At times I felt as though I was listening to a radio play. This is the only directorial mis-step by Abigail Smith. She handles the rest of the action really well, creating a believable and intriguing world, inhabited by real characters. The dawning realisation that Hamlet and Romeo were both rather self-obsessed, and an interesting discovery by Lady Ma, that I won’t describe here as it’s a real spoiler, lead to a growing understanding in the women. The end is a rather glorious set piece.
The production is enhanced by Mel Wesson’s sound design, from great tunes such as Crazy, to a nice atmospheric buzz. The set is simple and interesting, enhancing the action and atmosphere.
I really enjoyed the play and hope that it gets taken on to a wider audience. Nice one Lady Garden!
Reviewed by Katre
Photography by Max Curtis
Shakespeare’s Mad Women
Theatre N16 until 13th June