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Merlin and the Woods of Time (Chester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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We all know points make prizes… the point being that poets make excellent playwrights. Glyn Maxwell is well served by Chester Performs, and for a PG (but not PC) show, ample sophistication is mixed with entertaining zaniness: complementary songs and music and colourful costume. The delight is in the detail, played out in a simply appealing rustic setting.

It’s the good old standard: boy meets girl, then loses her, but the world of Camelot is a lottery: mere peasant spurned by proud beauty resorts to desperate measures, aka the end of the world as we know it. So he needs Merlin’s help with all kinds of weird and wonderfully witty goings on.

David Hartley’s Watercup is an ingenious, comic hero, and although Rosie Hones as Elaine falls for him a bit too suddenly, she’s an intriguing heroine: more sharp tongued yet plain daft than feisty. Lancelot and Guinevere (Paul-Ryan Carberry and Sophie Roberts) make a right Sex in the City pair, under the nose of a hilarious King Arthur (Sevan Stephen), while Robert Mountford as Sir Mordred, with such a big chip on his shoulder it’s a wonder he can stand upright never mind fight (he can’t), is a knight to remember.

Lastly, Rebecca Smith-Williams (Watercup’s sister Lily) turns out a lipsmackingly good heroine; indeed, the entire cast deserves praise.

Mix in some wine, Pimms, a delicious Carluccio picnic; what more could you wish for? Well, a sunset of course but a couple of showers were easily ignored during an enchanting performance. Be sure not to miss it, or As you Like It - you certainly will, with an excellent company like this.

- Carole Baldock


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