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Bartholomew Fair 1997 - RSC


'[T]his production, which transferred the action to the London Notting Hill Afro-Caribbean carnival, offered a lively if sometimes slightly frantic version of the play. The Notthing Hill context created a sense of danger - given clashes between crowds and police in the past - of drugs (Cokes was high on dope when his pocket was picked for the second time) and of celebration. The patrician and authoritative Adam Overdo (John Quayle) disguised himself as a relic from another carnivalesque celebration - the Glastonbury Festival. Meanwhile Mistress Overdo looked like Mrs. Thatcher, which added immeasurably to the spectacle of seeing her become drunker and drunker. What was very obvious in this production was how comic a character Trouble-all is; and once he had arrived onstage, the production really lifted. Quarlous was a biker but grew in seriousness and authority during the evening while Winwife simply got smarmier and smarmier. Ursula was extremely dirty, oily and the focus whenever she was onstage. Grace was satisfyingly gusty and really struck out in anger at her situation.

A lot of the text was cut - including, predictably, the induction. The production [made] enthusiastic use of fairy lights, razzle dazzle and cheap, tacky gew-gaws dropping on ropes from the ceiling and popping out from trapdoors on the floor.'

Elizabeth Schafer, RORD 37 (1998), 67-8

Set images

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