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A CurtainUp The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart
A mere five actors, singers and musicians take on all the roles, singing, playing and giving a physical performance to enliven the proceedings to hectic speed. The audience sit in the bar, in this case, the home of the London Welsh, in Grays Inn Road, Kings Cross, and the actors mingle with the paying guests. The action is fast and the Scots accents take a minute to get accustomed to, but as they say, the best English is spoken in Scotland.
Wide eyed Melody Grove plays the bluestocking Dr Prudencia Hart with Paul McCole as her nemesis Colin Syme, who thinks modern folk studies should encompass the X Factor , flash mobs, Kylie and football chants. They meet at a conference in Kelso, Colin having overtaken Prudencia on his motorbike, white scarf flying courtesy two helpers. Singer Annie Grace plays, amongst other parts, Siolaigha (said Sheila) Smith, an MA student from Perth who brings sexual politics into the debate on Border Ballads. After going head to head at the conference, Colin and Prudencia find themselves stranded by the snow at a pub advertising Kelso Folk Club Folk Night. With tongue in cheek wit, the country pub descends into a potential Straw Dogs type scenario cum cocaine fuelled orgy from which Prudencia flees. But has she leapt out of the frying pan into the fire as she meets the welcoming stranger (Davie McKay)? What follows is the stuff of folk ballads from the country that brought us Tam OShanter.
David Greigs's witty text is clever and insightful, lifting the show above the merely silly and the energy of the performances allow it to rattle along at a great pace. The band provides jigs and folk songs on fiddles and pipes and the music is integrated into the plot. There is word play and physical interpretation everywhere you look in this very entertaining evening. It is only scheduled in London for another three weeks and sold out in Peckham as word of mouth has said how “must see” this show was in Glasgow and at the Edinburgh Festival, that we have to hope for an extension.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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