This play has not been performed since 1625 and this is perhaps justifiable.
While we may join with the cast in considering the excitement of such a
‘dead’ work being brought back to life, the primary emotion we feel is an
embarrassed exposure to a cast bravely battling on.
The play is based around the presentation of ‘types’ – all out of their
‘humour’ – and Asper trying to sort them out. The plot is effectively non-
existent and the play is based on short interludes where the interactions of
‘types’ are revealed. However, unlike in a greater Jonson play, such as The
Alchemist, these interludes are not funny enough to stand alone.
The actors work hard to get something out of these, but they rarely manage
to express a full pastiche or satire. Chloe Courtney as Asper was highly
competent and at moments managed great subtleties in her language, hidden
melancholies creeping out, in order to achieve an expression of genuine
frustration. However, her competence was not allowed to shine, as weaknesses
amongst other members of the cast did not allow a full juxtaposition to be
created. That said, some scenes, especially the purely slapstick ‘cup’ scene acted by Emile Halpin, work well. Sarah Lyall, as Deliro, presented
some sense of extreme age – and the comic exaggeration of it – very well.
As I watched I continually felt that with more rehearsal and a better play
the cast could have welded together to form a really exciting production.
It seemed a shame that the vivacity of such actors as Charlie Mulliner was
If you are at Brasenose for Arts Week, do not miss this, despite its
problems, since it should be seen as fun frolics for Trinity Term and as a
welcome counterpoint to the Shakespeare and Stoppard also being offered for
this Arts Week. And I’m sure that by its first performance the unrehearsed
cast will have made real progress.
two stars out of five
Look out for this in Third Week as part of Brasenose Arts Week