The Knight of the Burning Pestle: Francis Beaumont

The Knight of the Burning Pestle: Francis Beaumont (1607)

★★★★½

(Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 2 January 2015)

First of all, a very happy New Year to all of you! My first outing of 2015 was to the wooden galleries of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, to see Francis Beaumont’s exuberantly experimental play The Knight of the Burning Pestle. This was such a success last year that it’s been revived and it’s simply perfect for the lighthearted Christmas season. Anarchic, raucous and full of music, it calls for audience interaction, conjures up plays within plays within plays, and offers a strikingly postmodern comment on the act of theatrical performance. It reduced me to tears of laughter by the interval.

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Original Scores: Le Malade Imaginaire: Molière (1673)

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

★★★

(Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse)

Last Monday I ventured away from my usual theatrical fare of blood-soaked Jacobean vengeance and tried something a little different. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are performing some candlelit concerts in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse this season, based around the concept of ‘original scores’. They present incidental music which was composed for early theatrical performances, originally intended to accompany ballets or intermezzi. This music is almost always stripped out of modern productions, leaving us with the bare unadorned text and, perhaps, depriving us of some of the subtleties which the playwright originally intended.

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