Sunday, 15 December 2019

Show brought the Wordsworths to life

Show brought the Wordsworths to life

Jeux d’Esprit presents William and Dorothy: A Love Story | King’s Arms Barn | Sunday, November 24

THIS weekend Henley was entertained once again by Jeux d’Esprit, a local theatre group respected for their considerable talent in staging successful son et lumière productions, and well known for ingeniously and creatively weaving together words, music and image to great effect.

This time they cleverly evoked the bucolic scenery of the Lake District in the early 1800s, inspiration for the poetry and journals of William and Dorothy Wordsworth and home to the colourful characters they encountered in their ramblings through the countryside.

The rich selection of readings very successfully communicated the signific-ance and impact of nature on their work and especially the River Rothay, which like the Wye must have provided a constant source of “tranquil restoration” and mindful reflection to William and Dorothy over many months and years, both in real time on its rocky banks and as a memory “ ’mid the din of towns and cities”.

The clever use of projections from contemporary paintings provided a wonderful backdrop of shifting imagery which flowed seamlessly with the content, reflecting the movement of the river, the changing cycle of the seasons, and depicting some of the inhabitants featured in the readings.

The various voices represented by the cast spoke to us with a range and depth of expression, keeping us anchored in the content, while the magic of the words and images transported us to another time and place, perfectly enhanced by the music composed and chosen to in-troduce and punctuate the different scenes.

Only one of the cast appeared briefly as Dorothy, melding into her image with such effect it might have been good to see this device used more extensively, perhaps with William’s character and possibly others, such as the child in the moving recitation of We Are Seven.

Overall there is no doubt that the creative force of Jeux d’Esprit has triumphed again in this production, led by the inspirational Jill Richardson and choreographed and delivered to the highest standards by the multi-skilled team she is fortunate to direct.

Ros Richards

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