Elizabethan @ The Space, Surgeon's Hall
Perhaps slightly too restrained to be called a romp, Elizabethan is nevertheless jolly
With many a style of smoking pipe in his arsenal, Tobias Bacon brings no-one but himself and a number of unsuspecting audience participants before us to tell the tragic tale of his three lost battles with love in Elizabethan.
In his quest to bring a selection of 16th and 17th century English songs to a modern audience, David William Hughes is successful in so much as he plays the lute with obvious skill and ease, sings pleasantly, and elicits increasingly more frequent laughs from the audience with his enthusiastic interpretations. To that tune, he is very well spoken as an actor/narrator and intones his carefully written script with arguably too much care to give a sense of great presence, but certainly with comedic intelligence. Intelligence of a general definition is not something this script is lacking in, and Hughes leans into that with confidence, particularly the consistently sprinkled absurdist similes and meat-related puns.
It is possible that the audience feel more relaxed with Hughes’ breaking of the fourth wall than he does, though the attitude from both sides grows steadily more familiar as we progress. A smidgeon more slack left in the script for improvisation would allow the interactive aspect of the piece to be more actively embraced. More than one instance of rejecting offers is noted, which is always puzzling when a performer seems very much to have gone out of their way for a patron’s input. However, this is all-in-all a genuinely fun experience with the added joy of some surprisingly amusing Elizabethan ditties performed unedited with their original music – a feature offered by virtue of Hughes’ clear personal passion for the preservation of these works.
Tobias Bacon’s take on love and tobacco is recommended as a light midday snack.
Elizabethan, theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall (Theatre 2), 2-25 Aug (not 12), £9-£7
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