I arrived at
Before the play began we were treated to an introduction by the outgoing Provost of Worcester College, Sir Jonathan Bate, himself previously on the board of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He welcomed us to his home (the performance was set in the Provost’s Gardens – not usually open to the public) and gave us a potted history of the play and a little about this particular performance. Set in the 1920s at a college (rather than at the King of Navarre’s court), the comedy focuses on the much-loved Shakespearean theme of ‘finding’ oneself. With characters from both above and below stairs, there was certainly enough variety to keep the audience entertained for a couple of hours.
The performances of the members of the Cosmic Arts troupe were brilliant, with wonderful chemistry between our main players, both male and female. Led by Lakeem Rose as Ferdinand (the King) and the Princess, Juni Ham, I fell in love with each character as their stories unfolded. I have to say, from our four students and their potential love interests, while all funny in their own way, the actor that stood out for me was Jonny Wiles with his Branagh-like declarations as Berowne; the Shakespearean language really felt the most comfortable and powerful coming from him. I kept imagining him sparring with Emma Thompson back in the days of that star-filled film version of Much
Meanwhile, below stairs we were treated to another cast of comedy characters, most noteworthy the bombastic, camp Armado (played extravagantly by Jack Marsh). His Spanish accent was beyond compare, and occasionally beyond understanding. But no matter – every time he was present, the audience was chuckling or downright guffawing.
With a beautiful old Rolls Royce present on stage throughout and the casting of a lovely, most well-behaved little pooch, I thoroughly enjoyed both the aesthetics and action of one of Shakespeare’s shorter plays. Perfect for a summer’s evening, but remember to take a blanket or a cardigan – the sun sets fast in