Saturday, 26 February 2011

Trollope in Barsetshire - Riverside Studios, London

Writer/Director Richard Digby Day
Reviewer: James Higgins

Well it seems that time travel was possible after all, or was it the excellent Meantime London Ale that they serve in the Bar at Riverside studios? As I gazed out from the stalls it did look like I had been transported to an era when the Monarch was often not amused. Before me was a distinguished Victorian gentleman dressed neatly and sporting a huge bushy beard. The set upon which he stood consisted of two well made period leather armchairs upon a large rug. In the background a bookcase and in front a simple table. 

Richard Digby Day's decision to cast Edward Fox in the role of Trollope was genius and what we see over two halves of 45 minutes each is an acting masterclass in the art of the monologue, pure and simple. Fox brings the much loved characters of Trollope to life as we enter the magical world of Barsetshire. 

Trollope is probably the best loved of the Victorian novelists and during the course of the play we meet multiple characters from six of his texts as well as his autobiography. These range from Dr. Harding, the gentle Warden, to Mrs. Proudie, the domineering Bishop's wife and many more in between.

We hear many fascinating stories ranging from helping an Earl to fight an angry English Bull to plotting murder and the possible associated guilt that accompanies the deed. If you have not met the works of Trollope before then you may struggle to grasp quite what is happening before you. Fox's Trollope moves slowly from bookcase to chair and from old lady to Bishop, and it is sometimes hard to keep up with play. However Trollope in Barsetshire is still worth seeing just to hear the wonderful Edward Fox deliver the old stories with such verve.

Runs until 2nd April.
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