Sunday, 27 January 2008

BEST KEPT SECRET: TACIT THEATRE'S 'THE CANTERBURY TALES'






This weekend I was invited to a friend of a friend's theatre group performance at the Arthur Cotterell Theatre, Kingston College. They performed an ourtageously, brilliantly crude and laugh-out-loud show. Seriously, there was one guy bellowing from deep in his belly right behind my left ear.


Tacit Theatre's rendition of a handful of Chaucer's MANY tales was excellently performed with modern hints but not so much as to take away from the man's (Chaucer's) genius craft. What gets me the most everytime I see it (this has been my second time) is the authenticity of it all. I really enter 14th Century old England when I am there. The audience becomes a crowd at the Tabard Inn. We are only being served two types of Ale (thanks to the Hogsback Brewery), a light and a dark, some red wine and my new favourite, mulled wine. I am going to put up a recipe for making mulled wine later on because I love it so much. Mind you, we were also only served in these brilliant silver tankards. I had to suppress the urge to swing them and shout folk tunes with the company.
On top of the bar sat the band, playing traditional folklore songs on traditional instruments of the time, lutes etc. We banged fists on the bar keeping time. My cousin, who was a barmaid for the event, was jokingly called a wench several times as she fetched frothing tankard after tankard of ale.
It was a promenade performance, meaning we stood and sat anywhere we pleased, whether on the stairs, the floor or the haystacks and barrels that were chairs and tables. And the play seemed to work itself around us nicely. They had us shuffling out of the way to borrow haystacks for props, taking part in marriage ceremonies (bellowing person became a best man) and getting down on our knees to pray. No one seemed to mind the constant movement. We were too busy laughing at the sex-fuelled dialogue, looking around for any little children in the audience with our hands over our mouths. We were toasting tankards, turning right, turning left, looking up into the rafters and down as the vibrant actors played their parts every which way.

It didn't end there. As if getting peed on by Damian, the garden boy in the last tale wasn't enough, there then came a professional Capoeira group, led by a professor Julio Sanha├žo. I can only assume by the name and by the way he expertly and sweetly sang the portuguese music for his group to move to, that he is a brazilian native. A bit random for a Chaucer play but I guess when one sees an opportunity for recognition, one takes it. One of the dancers is siblings with Leo Steele, the producer of 'The Canterbury Tales'. I have some video footage I can post of them doing their thing. It was brilliant. There was a move from 'You Got Served' in there! Also, they offer all levels of Capoeira classes, if anyone be interested. Check them out at http://www.senzala-london.co.uk/



Needless to say, I had a blast and just wished it didn't have to end. Apparently, due to insufficient funds, this Saturday was the last performance, but I really think everyone ought to see this show, whether or not you be a Chaucer fan, so I'll see what I can do to get them to do an Encore. It's well worth the measly 5 pounds and the bits of hay on your arse as you leave.

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