"Modern re-telling of Chaucer's stories"
by Matthew Partridge for remotegoat on 12/07/19

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is one of the most famous works of Early Modern literature. Tower Theatre’s production, written and adapted by Ian Hoare, Lucy Moss, Angharad Ormond and others, and currently running at Tower’s theatre in Stoke Newington, moves it into the modern day. Nine passengers (Sarah Bower, Emily Carmichael, Paul Graves, Arabella Hornby, Deborah Levy, Toni Madja, Alistair Maydon, Alexa Wall, Paul Willcocks and Ryan William) as well as a train guard (Alexa Wall) are stuck on board a train to Canterbury. In an attempt to improve the mood, the guard suggests that they start sharing some tales in order to pass the time.

What follows are six short plays loosely based on Chaucer’s short stories. These include: two friends fighting over a woman (the Soldier’s Tale), an atomic farce (The Miller’s Tale), a story about a refugee (Man of Law's Tale), a poem about modern women (The Wife of Bath’s Tale), a story about a marriage gone wrong (The Clerk’s Tale) and finally a barnyard parable about vanity (The Priest’s Tale).

The real strength of the production is the way that Angharad Ormond has managed to make this a proper ensemble piece by making sure that each cast member remains involved in the action, even when they are not taking part. While this is not a traditional musical, the director even manages to work in several song and dance numbers, whether it is the medley of 1960s songs in the Miller’s Tale or the Carmen themed singing of the final piece.

Overall, this is another strong and original production from Tower Theatre.

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