Review: Mixed tale of ‘Two Cities’

theatre
“A Tale of Two Cities”
By Charles Dickens, adapted by Terence Rattigan and John Gielgud. Directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher
At The Q, Queanbeyan, until February 16.
Reviewed by Joe Woodward

WRITTEN in the 1930s, this play was deliberately buried for decades, but knowing the difficulty of adapting such a novel to the stage, one can understand why! The result is mixed.

Barbara Denham as Prosecutor. Photo by Ben Appleby.

Barbara Denham as Prosecutor. Photo by Ben Appleby.

With some very bold directorial decisions and a very contemporary context, the work had moments of brilliance. The use of recent popular music and costumes meant the production did not attempt to do a “Les Miserables” nor make it into an historical drama, which could annoy some audiences while thrilling others – such is the power and ephemeral nature of theatre.

However, it could appear like Agatha Christie meets Eminem! By down-playing any sense of heightened language and making it mostly pedestrian, the touches with microphones and other effects that sought to enhance certain moments made consistency very difficult. Perhaps this is the price to pay when developing an original voice for revealing aspects of a story that is so well known and travelled.

There was very little real emotion expressed or shown at any point and, at times, the acting seemed uncertain. At other times, there was a sense of fun that celebrated the quirky and cheeky aspects of relationship against an historical drama that engulfed each character.

 

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