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Trollope in Barsetshire

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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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.


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