The juryís still out on whether Shakespeare had a hand in this play since its recent publication suggested so, but three cheers for Phil Willmott for allowing those of us who prefer our plays on stage rather than on the page to join in the debate. For a play with just 2 hours playing time, itís a fairly convoluted story (though without any sub-plotting). In Andalusia, one of the The Dukesís sons poses as his friend, courts the girl in love with him and rapes her maid. Of course, itís all resolved by the end. I have to confess that the likeness of the actors did lead to a little confusion, but I wasnít entirely gripped and somewhat distracted. Itís simply staged (just as well given that it moves swiftly from scene to scene) with just nine chairs and a coffin (!) for props Ė also just as well as it was designed by a choreographer (Javier de Frutos), but to be fair it does have a real Andalusian feel (helped by a Spanish guitar soundtrack). I could have done without the frequent sorties of the cast through the audience though, which seemed pointless and became very irritating. The performances are mostly good, though Adam Redmore was a bit too sweet to be entirely plausible as the villain. Iím not Shakespeare scholar, though I have seen all of his (other) plays and Iíd be surprised of he had much of a hand, if any, in this given the crudeness of the structure and the third-rate verse, but it was good to see it for myself. To confuse things further, the RSC is following Croydon Warehouse in staging Cardenio this summer, in which Shakespeare may also have had a hand and may even be wholly or partly the same play! Just when youíve been waiting for the Shakespeare bus for ages, along come threeÖ.. - Gareth James
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