May 2016 – Don’t Blame it On the Boots/The Droitwich Discovery

THE BARD UNBUTTONED     

Reviewed by Peter Steptoe

On the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Parlour Players decided to perform two one act plays about him by Nick Warburton, author, and playwright.

The first of these was entitled ‘Don’t Blame It On The Boots’ and had the very unoriginal plot line about bad acting by amateurs. This was ameliorated by excellent twists and character development. The play being performed was Hamlet and as the director Kate (Katie Eynon) mournfully said after the first night; “The audience laughed”. The ill fitting boots that the Ghost of Hamlet was forced to wear, apparently had previously had some famous feet in them. This part marvellously played by Michael Cooke as Eric an elderly roué, whose mobility of expression exactly mirrored his lustful thoughts; which were directed towards the ingénue Ophelia attractively played by Becky Crisfield whose prehensile arms and hands wandered in all directions when emoting. Eric’s philandering was only partially controlled by his fiancée’s stridency and no nonsense approach as the costume designer Liz (Kate Nash). The boots provided an excellent twist to end the play seemingly with a life of their own.

The other play entitled ‘The Droitwich Discovery’ had an original plot where the action took place in the attic of an old house in that city where Shakespeare was unbelievably reputed to have written his works.  Guided tours there were conducted by Mrs. Craddock and played by Jane Swale in a similar manner to Julie Waters with the added touch of chronic cupidity.

Suddenly there appeared Shakespeare, not William but his brother Terence, whom it appeared, had written the entire works. This gave great fun in punning titles which we translated as Will’s well known works. Terence’s were in modern English with various dialects and not as he says the gobbledegook of Tudor English.

Terence was convincingly played by Chris Bishop and by snapping his fingers made his visitors play the parts in his ill written originals that Will had purloined. George (Joe Crisfield) had dialectical skills to indicate which part of the country he was coming from and the remaining visitors, Olive (Ros Tunbridge), Karen (Madeline Reeve) and Dilly (Caroline East) demonstrated the art of ensemble playing to a high degree.

Both plays were directed by Tony Dent with his usual skill.