Reviewed – 30th May 2019
“the concept of this play is unique and clever”
Outrageous Fortune is the latest play in development by Debs Newbold whose previous works include King Lear Retold and Lost in Blue. The night began with friendly informality led by Newbold as she explained the purpose of the evening’s performance. Currently the play is in development; a work in progress, due to go on tour in March next year. We were the privileged few to see the early stages of her epic one woman show.
Outrageous Fortune reminds me of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in the sense that the two plays focus on what you didn’t see in Hamlet; the behind the scenes footage, so to speak. The play centres on Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude and we’re introduced to her in purgatory. Here, Gertrude shares her memories of being married to a king twice, with both experiences proving wildly contrasting, her cherished friendship with Ophelia and the troubled love she experienced with her son. Through these revelations Gertrude would find freedom within the confines of monotony (a mandatory obligation of purgatory) and discover an inner strength long residing within her, yet for so long supressed.
Along the way we would be introduced to her humorous friend Joan of Arc, the martyr turned expert pastry chef, who served as a unique emotional mirror to Gertrude’s turmoil as, together, they managed their nether-world berth as best as they could.
Newbold was accompanied by a musician; a percussionist who played an intuitive score alongside the performance. The choice to use live music and sounds in this way was a smart one. It complimented the emotional journey of the story, making the experience all the more visceral.
At this stage, the production certainly still needs work. At ninety minutes, the piece felt far too long. It was the wonderful, musical asset that managed to keep the energy, somewhat, buoyant throughout. The interconnecting narratives, told by Gertrude, to create her backstory felt disorganised and lengthy as they jumped from one to the other, all the while trying to relate back to the original Hamlet in order to create the integral link to her being in purgatory.
However, despite these issues, the concept of this play is unique and clever. I have no doubt that they will iron out any problems as they continue to develop and experiment with the story. Definitely keep an eye out for this play next year. It will be Gertrude as you’ve never seen her before.
Reviewed by Pippin
Photography by Charlotte Graham
Previously reviewed at this venue: