By Alexander Smith
This compelling double bill in the Friargate Theatre brought the audience in close contact with the actors and produced an intimate performance experience. The first on the bill was ‘The Yorkshire Tragedy;’ a concise piece often attributed to Shakespeare, that recounts the descent of a greedy father into madness. Its culmination in the heinous murder of his infant sons is offset by the morally virtuous characters surrounding him and attempting to sway him from his ways. The atmosphere was instantly palpable with the ominous use of violin establishing the sinister tone of the piece. The principal character was adeptly played by Mark France, who instantly communicated the hyperbolic, swaggering masculinity of the husband figure, commanding the space and exuding a dominant demeanour. Complementing France superbly was Anna Rose James’ excellent portrayal of the frail, beseeching wife; her gentle tone and demure body language evoking tremendous sympathy. Furthermore, the choice of costume was apt as her pure white gown accentuated her role as the archetype of purity in the play. The sword fight in the second scene was well choreographed and a valuable contribution to the pacing and action as a whole. A feature of particular note was the utilisation of the backlit screen and silhouette puppetry that added a further dimension of theatrical interest and effectively aided the fluidity of the play.
Having been treated to piece of Jacobean theatre, the second on the bill was a modern and glaringly relevant piece, ‘The Tasker’s Trials.’ Set against a distressed background of familial dysfunction and social jealousy, this comedic play certainly entertained. Anna Rose James’ comic timing and use of the watering can kept the running gag around her marijuana plants fresh and enjoyable. The dramatic story arc of the return of Luke, the disgraced eldest son, allowed for moments of dramatic violence. Josh Dowden communicated pent-up frustration in this scene skilfully. The character of the police officer represented a jovial authority figure, with Claire Morley’s employment of a deliberated gait and gesture heightening this caricatured impression to great effect. Overall ‘The Yorkshire Scandals’ was a hugely enjoyable theatrical experience, evoking tragic drama and comedy with equal alacrity.
Catch the final two performances, 7.30pm Saturday 27th & 3pm Sunday 28th January at the Friargate Theatre. Check out the website for more info.