reviewed by Paula Citron
Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Written by Ben Johnson
Directed by Antoni Cimolino
Starring Matt Steinberg, Jennifer Paterson, Christopher Prentice, Jonathan goad, Trent Pardy, Juan Chioran, Brian Tree, Tom McCamus, Lucy Peacock, Randy Hughson and the Ensemble
At the Tom Patterson Theatre until Oct. 2
A Stratford Festival mandate is the presentation of great literary rarities. Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair was written in 1614, but whether it is a great play is under advisement.
The story is practically nil – a bunch of different people go to the fair where they meet a bunch of other people – but what the play has is a host of wonderful characters, and character-driven plays were Jonson’s long suit.
It is, in fact, these characters that give a huge number of Stratford players a chance to bite into meaty portraits. Veteran actress Lucy Peacock steals the show as the slatternly, oversized pig lady Ursla, and her padded costume has to be seen to be believed. Young actors also shine such as Trent Pardy as the dim-witted but enthusiastic country squire Cokes.
Director Antoni Cimolino keeps the action lively, and draws out these colourful characters with loving detail.
Bartholomew Fair continues at the Tom Patterson Theatre until Oct. 2.