Don’t get me wrong, I like Stratford, birthplace of one the greatest (if not THE greatest) Englishmen who ever lived. The major changes to the theatres are nearly complete and it will be a spectacular venue for the plays of which I am so fond. What I was not so keen on, a little while back, were the ‘begging buckets’ after a performance to help retired actors – a worthy cause indeed – but I found it a little incongruous immediately afterwards walking by the multi-million upgrade of the theatres. Well, what I mean is, couldn’t some of that money have been used to look after those older thespians, rather than putting it all in the new buildings? Yes, it all began before the credit crunch, and we now live in an age of austerity, but couldn’t someone with some foresight have thought that perhaps these improvements were, shall we say, a little over the top?
Anyhow, this time we went to see Morte d’Arthur, a play (based on a series of books/plays) written originally by Thomas Malory in the fifteenth century, given a modern makeover and quite honestly, it is the best performance I have seen at the Courtyard Theatre in years. Yes, it isn’t Shakespeare but it fits in wonderfully, and anyone familiar with the film Excalibur will be reminded of that fine film, with only Wagner missing to highlight the various tableaux. Nevertheless, this performance did not need Wagner. The ideas are wonderful; jousting given a realistic feel with men acting as horses underneath knights in vivid medieval colour; medieval plainsong wonderfully sung by the cast; Sam Troughton ageing convincingly, seemingly without makeup.
In a nutshell, I left the theatre more enthused and entertained than ever before. Well done Mike Poulton and Greg Doran. It was a long time in the making but worth waiting for.