Pentameters Theatre, London NW3
Opened 19 February, 1992

Jacobean actor Nathan Field, "vexed with vile plays", set out in 1607 to do better himself. The reasons for Weathercock's popularity are still apparent, but these days we have Harold Robbins adaptations and American daytime soaps; in other words, its structure is plot-plot-plot-ACTING-plot-ACTING-ACTING... and so on, with all confrontations at boiling point from the first, and little sense of pace or dynamic beyond the standard device (for a romantic comedy) of making everything right by means of cozenage. With three parallel trickery-driven plot strands, Field mistakes liveliness for interest.

So, on occasion, do Trampoline theatre company, with a gratuitously acrobatic Page, a wildly (and hilariously) itinerant sword fight and a camp Count whose gesticulations make one wish Islamic punishment upon him for attempted scene-stealing. In contrast, a number of shrewdly pitched characterisations (notably Paul Ritter's Pendant, a distant ancestor of Jack Dee) demonstrate what can be done with such a script. But, while testifying to the adventurousness and commitment both of this new company and of Pentameters (a pub theatre heroically still running while beneath them the pub itself is being converted), it's a patchy evening's entertaimnent.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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