A Chaste Maid in Cheapside
Allwit, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside
" Lent? What cares colon here for Lent? "
This production had been planned for nearly seven years, since Ben Harrison studied the play at Warwick University. In its carnivalesque celebration of the human appetite, outrageous energy and lust for rule-breaking, it seemed an appropriate piece to revive, particularly as London’s confidence as a city appears in the ascendant.
The production’s aesthetic was to embrace many periods of fashion since 1613 and to dress to character. The production employed a ‘Vivienne Westwood’ approach in Greta Cuneo’s design which matched the anarchic and improvisatory nature of the characters. The vivid life of the play was presented on stark set of sharply-raked walkways and plastic sheeting. The music by Philip Pinsky was an eclectic and powerful mix of chillout, drum and base, and more traditional forms. Natasha Chivers’ rich lighting added colour and form.
A strong ensemble cast of 17, drawn from a strong physical theatre as well as classical background, created the complex multi-plotted world of the play which involves 28 characters. They were led by Stephen Boxer as Allwit, the play’s amoral centre. Much care in rehearsal was taken to clarify the arcane and difficult language of the play, to bring it closer to our own time. The production opened at the Oxford Playhouse and toured to Malvern, Bath, Richmond, Huddersfield and Guildford.