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July 4, 2016

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Bedlam by name, Bedlam by nature

October 29, 2016

 Well here's a how-de-do! You have a theatre company named Bedlam, and I think that's the very last thing you'd want in an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel! Shakespeare's language can take that kind of onslaught, as proved in Bedlam's Twelfth Night, but Austen? Not to put down Jane (or Will for that matter), not one jot! I guess it's the difference between James Bond requiring his martini shaken and not stirred? I prefer my Austen stirred, with a little less shake...

 

I don't want to come off all negative. There was much about the show I loved—sparse set, ingenius use of props, great ensemble work, nice timing, creative staging. However, the bloated running time was unnecessary—why not keep to the salient story-telling points? It started out at a cracking pace—perfect!—with deft touches and nuanced performances. But as the evening progressed I felt we had encountered some unforeseen mire and were languishing pitifully. The drama and quirkiness stopped working, and the whole show became lumpy and burdensome.

 

The emotional build up for Elinor was completely lost; her heartbreaking outburst at the end of the play, held back for what should feel like an eternity, was overshadowed by other unnecessarily 'dramatic' performances. I am not going into specifics—just suffice it to say there was one female performance I absolutely loathed for this reason. I do not blame the actors per se. As a director myself, my first port of call with any production issues will be the director. How could it not be? I also know that what we see is not necessarily the full story—from casting, through rehearsals, into previews, and on to opening.

 

All that said, it's worth a watch. Running now until...well, for a while at least—I think I read somewhere that it's just been extended again, so someone wants to go and see the bloody thing! All details at bedlam.org 

 

Photo: Elizabeth Nicholls

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