Renaissance, Stephens House & Gardens - ★★★★★ - Until September 20, 2020


The words dance off the tongue in this new, delightfully amusing ninety-minute verse play by Charles Ward. Under Emma Butler's immaculate direction, Renaissance is performed on a small raised platform in a magically lit garden. The modern, stylish cream and white clothes look gorgeous. We meet Cesare Borgia, Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli who, at Cesare's behest, assume each other's characters. Light-hearted comedy ensues when the women in their lives turn up. In many ways the story recalls Shakespeare's comedies of disguise and mistaken identity. James Corrigan has great fun and is outstanding as the flamboyant Cesare, getting himself into all kinds of predicaments including some amusing exchanges with the sexually ambivalent Machiavelli. Nicholas Limm as Niccolò speaks beautifully, especially as he begins to enjoy his new role at court. Akshay Sharan, masquerading as a bemused Leonardo, is totally charming. Hannah Morrish as Cesare's sister, the infamous Lucrezia Borgia, disguises herself as a boy and is a total delight throughout, as is Bethan Cullinane's flirtatious Caterina Sforza. Both speak the verse to perfection and catch every nuance. As the 'grande dame' Isabella d'Este who is chasing Leonardo to complete a commission, Haydn Gwynne uses her presence and incomparable voice to great effect and looks suitably dejected when she has to swap Bond Street for Oxfam. The complex rhyme schemes bring their own comedy to the evening, and it is a rare pleasure to hear a modern verse play delivered with such relish as is the case with Renaissance.

Reviewed by D.S.J.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until September 20, 2020
Thu - Sun: 7:30 pm, Sat & Sun: 2:30 pm
Stephens House & Gardens
Nearest tube: Finchley Central

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