AN almost-full Kenton Theatre was treated to an entertaining dip into Shakespeare’s postbag to mark the 400th anniversary of his death.
As soon as the song Please Mr Postman began to play to open the show, the audience knew they were in for something a little different.
This was a selection of scenes from Shakespeare’s plays in which a letter plays a crucial part — whether it is to woo, to plot or to deceive — seamlessly linked with short explanations of who the characters were, what was happening in the play at that point in the action, and where the scene was set.
The actors — Jeremy Child, Richard Howard, Sally Nesbitt, Patrick Osborne and Jane Trainer — played a range of characters, switching from tragedy to comedy with ease.
I particularly enjoyed Jane Trainer and Sally Nesbitt as Mistress Page and Mistress Ford from The Merry Wives of Windsor, plotting their revenge on Falstaff for sending them identical love letters — and from the laughter of the audience, I sense I wasn’t the only one.
Jeremy Child’s portrayal of the shameless Falstaff was also popular, and Richard Howard as Malvolio trying to make his face break out into an unaccustomed smile got a good laugh too.
There were also moments of high drama, with Patrick Osborne portraying Othello’s anger and Edmund’s resentment very effectively.
From Twelfth Night to King Lear, Shakespeare’s Postbag took us on a varied journey through Shakespeare’s plays, from well-known scenes such as Lady Macbeth receiving a letter from her husband to less famous ones such as Katherine of Aragon sending a last letter to Henry VIII.
It was fascinating how the actors brought the scenes to life with no costumes or props, except the all-important letters, and with scripts in hand.
This was an interesting and enjoyable rehearsed reading that I could imagine working well as a full show. It certainly went down well with the festival audience.