Bells and Whistles Company
Devised and directed by Antony Holland
Venue 14-16, 21-23 September 2009 | Jericho Arts Centre.
Antony Holland and
his company shared Shakespeare in a most entertaining and illuminating
way. The evening opened with Antony Holland reminiscing about Shakespeare
and his work and explaining the structure of the verse and language used
in the texts. He then illustrated how this verse is the natural rhythm
of English speech and went on the say how much easier it for an actor
to memorize these texts than are the rhythmless and short sentenced dialogues
in most modern dramas.
By using only the text without all the trappings of modern theatrical
scenery, costumes and other distracting influences, the clarity and beauty
of the speech and its full meaning is there for the audience to give it
its full attention.
This was demonstrated by Holland and a company of young actors in short
scenes from King Lear and the Merchant of Venice. The
company was seated on either side of he bare stage, all wearing everyday
clothes. The scenes were announced by one of the actors and performed
either from memory or readings.
As King Lear, Holland changed sensitively and believably from an authoritarian
and jovial ruler to a shocked and bewildered old man.
His horror at the thought that he might be losing his senses was communicated
to this audience, and his final reconciliation with himself as a benign
and gentle old man was a truly moving performance.
As Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Holland was amusing, thoughtful,
menacing and terrifying as well as heartbreakingly defeated at the hands
of the young lawyer Portia and the taunting young men at the trial. The
tension built gradually throughout the short acts to the dramatic climax
of the trial and then closed with the destroyed Shylock arousing sympathy
from the audience, leaving the audience to ponder who are the more cruel.
The experience of being absorbed by the language well spoken and intelligently
delivered proved Holland’s point that extraneous distractions are
unnecessary for the full engagement and enchantment of an audience by
such a performance as this.
A great experience.
2009 Jane Penistan