An extraordinary night at the theatre

IMGP6114THE Current Mrs Feeney and I are recently back from our first visit of 2016 to Stratford upon Avon.

I wouldn’t describe watching Shakespeare as strictly one of my retirement projects. I’ve been a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for many years. When I was still working, we were restricted to Saturday matinees.

That involved a three-hour dash up the M4 and M5, breaking the journey only for a hasty his-and-hers Olympic breakfast at a Little Chef restaurant a few miles outside Stratford.

I was disappointed by the demise of Little Chef. Our regular Saturday stop-off is a MacDonalds now. It’s not the same.

Now, of course, we can select our productions as we wish. We usually go to a midweek evening performance, stay in a Premier Inn a few hundred yards from the RSC theatre, and discuss the play over a post-show meal at Thespians Indian restaurant. It’s all a lot more civilised.

Actually, it wasn’t Shakespeare we were watching on Wednesday, but one of his contemporaries. “The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe is an extraordinary piece of theatre.

Maria Aberg (the director) has created a production that is imaginative, dramatic, disturbing (even for an old atheist like me) and utterly riveting. TCMrsF – who tends to come out in goosebumps at the merest hint of a pentangle – loved every second of it.

In a show full of memorable bits, the Seven Deadly Sins cabaret from Hell was perhaps the scene that will haunt me longest. That or Faustus’s despairing dance of death with the spirit of Helen of Troy.

Some RSC productions are shown live in cinemas. I don’t know if this is going to be one of them. If it is, and you have the opportunity to see it, make sure you do.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to our next trip to the RSC in May, to see their adaptation of Cervantes’s Don Quixote.


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