Fringe Box



Review – Cadfael: The Virgin In The Ice – Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 3 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 5 Apr, 2013
... as Cadfeal in Cadfael The Virgin in the Ice

Gareth Thomas as Cadfeal in Cadfael: The Virgin in the Ice

by The Stage Dragon

Cadfael: The Virgin In The Ice. The title provides an exciting prospect. Unfortunately, the play just doesn’t deliver.

Middle Ground Theatre Company present the play as a “World Premiere Stage Adaptation of Ellis Peters’ famous medieval sleuth”. Unfortunately, it appeared to me, for “World Premiere” one could read “not quite ready yet”, which is a shame because it does have the potential to grow into a reasonable production.

The acting is fine with respectable performances from Gareth Thomas in the title role and George Telfer as the beaten and battered Brother Elyas. Thomas provides good voice projection during the action upstage, which happens all too often. His facial expressions convey perfect reactions to his colleagues and his gait is good. He could possibly give more energy though maybe this wouldn’t fit the calm sleuth that is Brother Cadfael.

Telfer is convincing throughout with brilliant make-up to portray his wounds and bruises from the beating he receives towards the opening of the play; allowing the audience to feel his pain and suffering.

But the production is let down by its overcomplicated technical values. I fear that due to it being a stage adaptation of a television series, the production team have tried to replicate all too literally what happens onscreen; rather than allowing dramatic licence in some scenes where the often clunky set or rather amateur cyclorama’s were simply unnecessary.

Set in the snowy winter of 1139, every effort is made to ensure the audience understand where the action is taking place. This is fine, but it causes many scene changes which slow pace and energy considerably. Snow is blown onto set from the fly loft with fairly noisy wind machines, which tend to distract and pull focus from the action on stage. It is a nice touch; however the balance isn’t quite right.

Another distracting and unnecessary technical aspect is the projector for the cyclorama. It is constantly on. This means that whenever it is not being used to play videos or project pictures, there is blank screen in full view.

The projected videos themselves are also fairly superfluous and lower the production value, with at least a quarter of the action pre-filmed. These could be quite easily be produced on stage and I feel that Michael Lunney Director may have become preoccupied with the fact that Cadfael was previously written and produced for television.

Hopefully, this production will become sharper and gain pace and energy with every performance. It still has a lengthy tour ahead of it, though a month in one would hope it would already be up to standard.

Cadfael: The Virgin In The Ice runs in Guildford until Saturday April 6th.

Did you attend the performance? What are your views? Please use the ‘Leave a Reply’ feature below to have your say.

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