|Review by Angei Beckett-Franks|
the WiseĒ was a brave choice because it is obviously not a Ďbums on
seatsí play but still very pertinent to the present time.
play has a straightforward plot but is very verbose, so well done with
all the lines you had to learn. However, the difficulties you have at
Lopping Hall with seating, stage size etc. doesnít appear to deter
your audience, as this was well supported for a production of this type.
Watching the audience and listening to their comments in the interval it
was obvious that they enjoyed it and were following things closely
music was very good and created the right atmosphere.
were minimal props on a bare stage, which I thought was a good thing in
this instance, but this means particular attention has to be paid to
lighting and blocking. I found it difficult initially to determine
whether we were supposed to be looking into Nathan's house or out. I
felt that perhaps the lighting was a little subdued on occasion and that
the light would be almost stark when anyone was outside.
rostrum at the back did work but could have come further forward because
sometimes people were masked or upstaged and there were occasional sound
problems for members of the audience at the back of the hall.
good use of the ramps at the front of the stage and doors off to give as
much space as possible, which kept a very good flow to the play.
was unsure as to why the Sultan and his sister had accents and the rest
of the cast did not. I assume that this was to convey that they spoke a
different language but I donít really think it worked as there would
be a variety of different accents and it is probably better to leave
everyone conforming to the same speech pattern
Grover gave a good characterisation of Daya,a servant who really sees
herself as one of the family and so entitled to interfere and pass
comment. Jean tempered it with just the right amount of caring attitude
and brought considerable humour to the character as well. One thing I
would say, is do be careful of too much use of the hands as this can be
distracting to the audience and one would not want to miss the facial
Langham gave an excellent
performance as Nathan: he is wise but no soft touch and Mark conveyed
this and brought considerable sympathy to the part. He showed the
strength of the man as well as the humanity.
Brown as Rachel had a difficult role, having to bring so many emotions
to the stage in a very short space of time. I felt that on one or two
occasions Jonica lost her focus probably because she was concentrating
hard on getting her lines correct. However, I did feel that she
certainly warmed up towards the end of the play and that this was a
competent Rachel and we did believe in her.
Howarth as Al-Hafi brought comedy to the part and was likeable but I
donít know if I would have trusted him. Martin has a very good voice
but be careful about "swallowing your words", which did happen
on occasion. I enjoyed his portrayal of Al-Hafi to which he really
brought his own interpretation
Howland as Knight Templar had a complex character to portray. He's in
turmoil most of the time but I was glad to see him finally crack a smile
at the conclusion of the play. Iain has great stage presence. He's the
kind of actor who draws the eye when on stage. However,
he did sometimes look a little slouched when standing still for
any length of time I thought it odd that he so readily accepted the fact
that his love was his sister I would have thought that most men might
have been a bit disappointed!
Gerlis as Christian Lay Brother: Peter has obviously been a monk at some
time in his past. I donít know any monks and I donít think many
other people do either but when we imagine how they would be, it is as
Peter portrayed him. Calm, quiet, generous, wise.
A very good characterisation.
Platt played the Sultan with real assurance and conveyed the impression
of Saladin's power, probably the most important where this role is
concerned. He could perhaps show a little more light and shade between
his moods. Frustration to pacification and the love for his family and
the fear that he could quite easily have killed them but nevertheless a
very assured performance.
portrayed Sittah as a very happy and wise woman balancing out any
extremes of her brother's nature. Jean has marvellous facial expressions
and responded so well to the conversations taking place in front of her
when all is revealed. Unfortunately, the audience didnít always get
the benefit of this because of her placement at the back of the stage
and sometimes because of her veil. But her movements were eloquent in
themselves and I enjoyed her performance.
Roger Barker had a cameo role as the Christian Patriarch it was obvious
that he really understood every word he spoke (difficult because this is
a translation) but I thought Roger made the words sound quite musical,
despite the fact that his character appeared so odious. He has a
practised stillness on stage, which is very east to watch. Another good
Thank you for inviting me to give this crit. and good luck with your next production of Proof.