A Trick to Catch the Old One: The Rose Theatre, Bankside - review

Prepare yourself for a breakneck ninety minutes of bedlam; everyone’s duping somebody else, no one quite knows what’s going on and everyone has a trick up their sleeve. Jenny Eastop’s fast-paced production of A Trick to Catch the Old One, is both mischievous and fun. It’s a classic money owing-money lending plot in which Theodorus Witgood played by Jonathon Reid, employs a former Mistress (Alexandra Ryall) to pose as a wealthy widow largely in order to gain back his estate from his Uncle, among other things. At times the finer details of the plot become a little confusing, but on the whole we keep up, and are held by excellent performances all round. Particularly of note is Stephen Good in the role of Walkadine Hoard; he’s very watchable and has an heir of Barry Chuckle (from the Chuckle Brothers) about him. Alana Ross and Michael Watson-Gray skittered in and out of numerous roles, delivering a robust array of characters which were thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

The ninety-minute edit felt perfect, and although the Rose Theatre is a wonderful space, you wouldn’t want to sit in there much longer, as it gets a little chilly (a few pre-prepared audience members had brought blankets.)

My favourite aspect of Eastop’s direction, was her decision to open up the space and use the ruins that lie beyond the allocated stage space. If you’ve ever visited the Rose Theatre before, then you’ll be aware how tiny the stage is; and how vast the ruins are that lay just beyond. I had an itching from the moment I entered the space to know what lay beyond our stage; I detest it when companies work in less traditional theatre spaces and refuse to acknowledge the architectural attributes of the space. Eastop took on this space perfectly, and halfway through the action was transported from close-up to some thirty feet away, beyond the confines of the stage. It carried us; opening up another section of our imagination; we became a different kind of audience, suddenly aware of ourselves, spies catching moments not really meant for our eyes; a wonderful and refreshing experience.

It’s a great location for this play, which needs no more than the simple props and use of signs to indicate location. If you're after an evening of Classical comedy in an archaic space, this is right up your street.

On at The Rose Theatre, Bankside until 24th May 2014
56 Park Street, London SE1 9AS
Box Office: 020 7261 9565

(C) Amie Taylor 2014

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