From the opening scenes one is transported back to 1325 by the hard hitting, powerful story line and the entirely convincing portrayals of the characters. Although there is no climax as such, the tempo builds inexorably from start to finish. A long three act show flashes by as one is totally immersed in the gripping storyline. One man’s dream becomes an obsession which finally destroys him. His growing irrationality has a profound impact on those around him as he spirals into madness.
Mark Meadows as Dean Jocelin is astounding. He is rarely off stage and must be physically and emotionally exhausted by the passion of the part. This is one of the finest performances I have ever witnessed. His all- consuming belief that he has been chosen by God to undertake the erection of this monument, is brilliantly portrayed throughout.
Vincenzo Pellegrino as Roger Mason, the master Cathedral builder, is in direct contrast to Dean Jocelin. He plays a strong and practical rationalist whose hunger to create Jocelin’s dream is tempered by the seeming impossibility of the task. The foundations of the Cathedral are unable to bear the weight of the tower and spire, but he is carried along on Joeclin’s insistence that this is the will of God and therefore must succeed. The battle of wills between these two opposing giants is the backbone of this great story.
The supporting cast are admirable, enhancing and strengthening the plot. There are smatterings of humour, dashes of brutality, and several romantic dalliances. Together with malevolent political undertones, these bring reality to the fore and add to the pragmatic depiction of fourteenth century England.
The sets, designed by Tom Rogers, although minimalist, work perfectly for the tone of this play. Together with dramatic lighting and exceptionally authentic sound effects, they produce a spectacular backdrop to the action.
This is an outstanding piece of theatre, thought provoking and utterly absorbing. Not to be missed.