The Dog in the Manger
Therein lies the plot of this comedy as each try to outdo each other in a series of farcical interludes; the plot is reminiscent of Twelfth Night - one wonders if they were drawn from similar source material - only here it is played for laughs 'Commedia' style in what amounts to a very entertaining piece.
Rogues' Gallery Theatre Company's production is an all out assault on the senses from a (mainly) young and energetic cast who clearly delight in 'strutting their hour' upon the stage, but for whom, at times, director Oliver Rose should have instructed “less is more”; when the cast do internalise they evidence a real depth of character that at times seems superficial and 'worn' rather than 'inhabited'.
The tiered wooden stage that allows for a variety of levels makes many of the moves seem clumsy and inelegant, especially as the actors pound up and down it or leap from it sending echoes and reverberations round the hall, obliterating the dialogue, which is all too often delivered at breakneck speed and shouted out far louder than is necessary, turning this comedy into melodrama for most of the first half. However in the second half it is as if the coach has had a word at half-time and the cast suddenly develop a depth that has been hitherto hidden, pace and timing are well balanced and the motives and desires become clear, drawing the audience to fully enjoy the subtleties and nuances and wit that this translation (by David Johnstone) offers.
This is a rarely performed piece that deserves a wider outing and makes the trek into the darkest depths of Shoreditch worthwhile.
- Dave Jordan