Theatre Reviews Eastward Ho! Swan Stratford RSC UK


Eastward Ho!
A Review

The Swan Theatre

Perfection for an evening

Fine acting and some outstanding performances graced this play. Lucy Pitman-Wallace’s direction was just right for this seventeenth century play “Eastward HO!” by Ben Jonson, George Chapman and John Marston — did they each contribute a section to this play, only they really know the answer, or was it put together over a pint of ale? Whatever the origin they made a fine job of it. This was a lesson in how to use the minimum of props on an empty stage, an insight other directors could benefit from. Robert Jones’s design is to be commended, as is the costume supervision of Charlotte Bird. The music also contributed to this play with some fine singing by the cast accompanied by Mick Sands and Sianed Jones.

As the audience squeezed themselves onto the bench seats, an air of expectancy filled the galleried theatre. Did they get what they expected — you bet they did and more. The story is that of William Touchstone, a goldsmith played with great merit by Geoffrey Freshwater, who has two apprentices, Golding played by James Tucker and Quicksilver played by Billy Carter. One is to be relied upon the other not. The evening’s performance was stolen with a great performance by Amanda Drew who plays Gertrude, one of the goldsmith’s daughters who wants above everything else to be a lady, using the female equivalent of the of voice of “Harold Steptoe” she charms the audience and has fun with the part. She gets her wish to become a lady, but it is without substance. There were some fine performances in this production, Sir Petronel Flash (Michael Matus), a wayward knight, Security (Paul Bentall), a money lender and Mistress Touchstone (Claire Benedict), the goldsmith’s wife, to name a few, but every actor on the stage deserves to be commended for their interpretation of their part. It is a go and see it play and you do not want to be told what the plot is before you go or the evening will be spoilt.

A fine old vintage play, with outstanding actors delivering every word with perfect diction, made the audience raise their hands high as they applauded. Reluctantly they went home still wanting more. Great. © BA.

“Eastward Ho!” is in repertory at Stratford from the 17th of April until the 14th of September, 2002.

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