Trollope in Barsetshire sees veteran
stage and screen actor Edward Fox give a flawless performance as the 19th-century
novelist and various of his colourful and well-loved Barset characters. A
magnificently bearded Fox beautifully captures Trollope’s wry humour in this
piece drawn from his Barsetshire novels and his autobiography.
The extracts are cleverly chosen, giving a sense of
narrative continuity and a taste of an emotional journey to this evening of
story-telling. Sensitive direction by Richard Digby Day ensures that Fox’s
parodies of characters such as Mrs Proudie and Archdeacon Grantly don’t
overwhelm the piece, and the inclusion of a particularly moving excerpt from
Framley Parsonage reminds the audience of Trollope’s immense
skill in rendering the more complex aspects of human nature.
The show’s format, although largely undramatic, allows us to
admire Trollope’s prose in its undiluted form. It is often very difficult,
watching a film or stage adaptation of a novel, to keep intact one’s original
image of a character or scene; Digby Day and Fox are careful enough in their
treatment that it is Trollope, rather than his adaptors’, ideas that come
through most strongly.
This show will not be to everyone’s taste: Trollope’s novels
are reflective of a very particular era and mood of English society and it
takes a little time and effort to appreciate his often flowery prose and super
dry tone. But if you love his work already, go see Trollope in Barsetshire;
you have a richly rewarding evening in store.