"The Rose is blooming again!"
by remotegoat reviewer for remotegoat on 28/06/10

The Rose, London's most historical theatre on Bankside, currently accommodates England's oldest tragic comedy: Arden of Faversham, by Em-Lou Productions is the earliest surviving example of domestic tragedy of an unknown author. T.S. Eliot believed that the 1592 play was written by Thomas Kyd, others think it might have been William Shakespeare. Directed by Peter Darney and with an excellent cast, Arden of Faversham amuses and moves us. Its plot, brilliantly combining comedy and drama comprises of the failed attempts of Alice Arden (Rachel Dale) to kill her husband Arden (Mark Carlisle). In her attempt, Alice is helped by her lover Mosby (Jonathan Woolf), Greene (Joseph Glynn), the slightly wacky painter (Richard Woolnough) and the two hired murderers Black Will and Shakebag (Dan Gingell, for this evening's performance and Simon Pennicott).

All members of the cast deliver excellent performances, full of energy and temperament. Richard Woolnough's short role as a painter stands out alongside the brilliant Dan Gingell and Simon Pennicott, who highlight the comic aspect of this play with slapstick gags and a clever interaction with the audience.

The stage is overlooking the archaeological excavation of the original space, the red lights, which outline the area of the original theatre are turned on and off to mark the passage of time. There is a great pace throughout the entire play, with one scene succeeding the other, great use of the space and clever exists and entrances. Costume designer Nicki Martin-Harper has chosen to skilfully combine elements, which illustrate the atmosphere of the era, but to also give the costumes a very contemporary feel. The fight scenes, directed by Marchello Marascalchi, are full of vigour and humour. Overall, Peter Darney's direction is fresh, inventive and enjoyable and this Em-Lou production one not to be missed!

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