In Pursuit of Cardenio - SKINNYFEST 1

Article by Louise Boyle | 14 Aug 2006
Ken Campbell is in search of Cardenio, Shakespeare's lost play. A theatrical black hole, it has little foundation other than tenuous links to passages from Don Quixote. An ambitious undertaking but Campbell seems confident enough to give it a bash. He walks the audience through key elements of Shakespearean drama which will be crucial to filling the scenes of the elusive play: from iambic pentameter, to the humours and spontaneous sonnets. The workshop style of this production invites the audience to interact with the players. Campbell asks for lines to inspire sonnets and suggests we wander amongst the troupe, as if at Speaker's Corner, as they soliloquise about the most banal of subjects from pens to mobile phones.
The raw, 'under construction' nature of what is presented here, gives a sense of inclusion in a production rather than simply being presented with a slick, finished piece. However, while Campbell's explanations are enthusiastic and his band of players are a skilled bunch, drawn out examples of actors weeping and fawning about the stage wear thin quickly.
In Pursuit of Cardenio is educational and at times pleasing. The improvised, unfinished element is a clever little bums-on-seats trick, as curiosity if nothing else will make you want to return next Saturday to see what the final show amounts to.