A New Way To Pay Old Debts Rose Theatre 13 September


'Mind the body!'

 The unimpressive photograph above shows the layout for performance:  banked seating around three sides of a playing area and the excavations beyond the railing left in darkness.

The play (by Philip Massinger, dating from 1625) concerns the evil machinations of Sir Giles Overreach, aimed at beggaring his neighbours and marrying his daughter into the nobility, in the shape of Lord Lovell.  His most wretched victim is Wellborn, formerly landed and well-off as well, whom he has reduced to destitution.  Since this is a comedy, you can safely assume that the evil machinations are frustrated, the young lovers are united, and virtue is triumphant.

The staging was clear and direct, and the whole affair was rather jolly.  It would not be entirely true to say that all the actors were perfect in their lines.  Of those who were, the standout performance came from Josh Rochford in the two roles of Marrall, Sir Giles’s wicked (later repentant) henchman and Tapwell the proprietor of a low dive.  Thomas Shirley also projected youth and innocence effectively in the role of Allworth.  Kyra Williams was very charming as Lady Allworth, virtuous widow and stepmother of the last-mentioned, though not always perfect in her lines.  Keith Chanter as Sir Giles tended to intone his lines in a rather distant fashion, preceded by spreading his arms, none of which was I thought a good idea.  Wellborn is supposed to be the engine of the plot, but as played by Frankie Spires he was rather standing around waiting for something to happen.

I think this production is certainly worth seeing, but probably later on in the run when everyone has become intimate with their part.  And the Rose Theatre is interesting to visit anyway, as well as having a very friendly front-of-house.

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