fringe: crowned

crownedThere's very often a fine line between Shakespeare that's performed beautifully and Shakespeare that's just performed.

Straylight Australia were definitely the former... whereas tonight's performance of Crowned by The Actor's Folio had some fine moments but wasn't on that level.

Both productions used excerpts from Shakespeare's Henry VI, although Crowned is a much more extensive interpretation.

It is unfair to directly compare the two productions, but unfortunately the similarities between the two keep leading me to judge Crowned against the corresponding section of Shakespeare's Queens. But I'll try not to.

Crowned is a two handed adaptation of Henry VI (both Parts 1 and 2) where everything happens on a circular, moveable (the use of which was slightly underused) stage surrounded by the audience.

The two actors play six roles in total... although that's not exactly fair... Ellonye Keniry plays Queen Margaret, whereas Tom St Jack plays Henry, the Duke of Suffolk, Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of York and Prince Edward.

In truth, it was occasionally difficult to always know who St Jack was at any given moment... I think correctly identified most of the changes in his voice and the use of a few simple props, but there are moments where it's somewhat unclear who he has become, especially when they appear for the first time. And it did tend to feel a little chaotic at times with him switching from one character to another.

And there were times when I only knew what was going on because I'd already seen another version of the same scene.

I still can't quite put my finger on where their delivery was lacking though... they were enthusiastic enough... and they had plenty of passion and fire... and they weren't bad by any stretch of the imagination... there was just something a little bit lacking.

For example, the relationship between the Queen and Suffolk didn't really come through that clearly.

Plus, given that it was presented in the round, there were moments, for everyone I'm guessing, where they were hard to hear. That wasn't helped by the music that seemed to run under the whole thing. Even so, they did do their best to ensure they projected around the room as well as making eye contact with pretty much the whole audience between them.

All in all it was an enjoyable hour of Shakespeare... but it's not the best time I've ever had with the Bard.

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