Review Round Up: Bartholomew Fair, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Blanche McIntyre’s production now playing at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

(c)Marc Brenner.

Evening Standard: *** “McIntrye’s production alternately finesses or speeds over the knots in the story. In a peppy ensemble, the standouts are Dickon Tyrell as pompous lawmaker Overdo, Zach Wyatt as rich dupe Cokes, and Joshua Lacey and Boadicea Ricketts playing two couples on opposite sides of the law.”

The Guardian: ** “But the language of the play, with its references to vapours, trillibubs and Mad Arthur of Bradley, remains rooted in the world of Jacobean city comedy for which McIntyre’s hectic production fails to find a plausible modern parallel.”

Time Out: *** “For all its undoubted spirit, the production feels a bit contained, and never really has the feel of an actual fair, which is a shame because the Globe’s outdoor stage could have been so perfect for this.”

iNews: *** “The pace quickens in the second half after a first act that rather drags, despite the play’s chaotic nature. Overall, though, it doesn’t quite fulfil its promise.”

The Stage: *** “This feels like a production constructed by someone who knows the play intimately and has thought carefully about how it might resonate with a modern audience. McIntyre has been itching to stage it for ages. Although it’s always enjoyable and has an agreeable momentum, it can feel confusing at times – all the plots within plots can be hard to follow – if you’re not at least reasonably familiar the source text.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “McIntyre takes a cue from Jonson and plays a lot of the figures as two-dimensional stereotypes, which sometimes works a charm (Dickon Tyrrell puts on a funny turn as the undercover judge Overdo) and other times proves slightly cringe-inducing, especially shade-sporting Eastern European ward Grace. Grant Olding’s compositions are bombastic fun but far too sparse – more of this could really have helped bolster the riotous carnivalesque mood.”

British Theatre Guide: “McIntyre’s version may settle in yet into its long run, but it’s not there yet. The musicians (Richie Hart on tuba and bass, Samantha Norman on violin, and Phill Ward on guitar) bring a much-needed jaunty air to the proceedings. We are encouraged to clap as the troupe dance and conga (choreographer Coral Messum) round the stage: the contract between audience and players that the ASM mentions in the Induction of the supposedly longest English renaissance play, which usually comes in at nearly four hours?”

The Reviews Hub: ** “Jonson’s play delights in what was then a rare mixing of the social classes, but the Globe’s new production has overcomplicated an already intricate plot, jettisoning both clarity and impetus for comic clichés. This won’t convince you that the play is a forgotten classic and it may well be another 20-years before we see it again.”

Broadway World: **** “this production is a riotous night out that’s a welcome distraction from the real world.”

Bartholomew Fair continues to play at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse until the 12th October.

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