New Voyage for 400 Year Old Pirate Tale at Exeter New TheatreDate: 10 August 2011
South West touring theatre company Creative Cow are tapping in to our seemingly endless lover affair with buccaneers, brigands and all things piratical, in their latest production, The Fair Maid of the West, which plays at Exeter's New Theatre from 26 August - 10 September.
The piece, written in 1599 by Thomas Heywood - a contemporary of William Shakespeare - is a swashbuckling Elizabethan romp that follows the adventures of Plymouth tavern landlady, Bess Bridges. In a brawl protecting Bess's honour, her handsome seafaring lover Spencer kills a man and flees the country to evade police capture. Bess hears that Spencer has been captured by pirates off the Spanish coast and takes to the sea herself, dressed as a pirate, with a band of like-minded swaggering sailors. They will seek out Spencer and rescue him... fighting the Spaniards all the way.
Bess is played by Katherine Senior, co-founder of Creative Cow and the only woman in an otherwise all-male cast. She's not daunted in the slightest by this. She says: "I come from a large family. On my father’s side there were four Uncles, all of which had boys. I was the first girl after 15 boys in the family and this was probably what set the precedent for my early years.”
"When I was 10 years old, I asked my Uncle, who was district commissioner for the Scouts, if I could join. A year later I became the very first female Scout in the UK!"
Katherine also started the first girl’s football team at her junior school, rode a motorbike as soon as she turned 16 and for her most recent birthday drove a Ferrari round Goodwood.
She continues: "Being brought up surrounded by hundreds of boys and constantly having to prove my female strength of mind and body, I'm relishing the idea of playing a strong female character from 1599, especially as Thomas Heywood would have written Bess to have been played by a male actor."
Katherine and the rest of the cast have been put through their paces with intensive fight rehearsals, and you can expect a lot of spectacular rapier duels in the show as well as fisticuffs. The fights on stage will be choreographed by professional Fight Director Toby Gaffney.
The cast also includes Exeter's favourite professional panto dame, Steve Bennett, playing Bess's staunch ally Roughman. Spencer is played by Jonathan Parish who is to put it simply, tall, dark and handsome. This new production of Thomas Heywood's 400 year-old swashbuckling romp, promises something for everyone.