Bawdy tales a hit on the stage

REVIEW: The Canterbury Tales

By Benjamin Coren

Christ’s Hospital theatre felt like the perfect venue to watch The Pantaloons production of The Canterbury Tales, the levelled auditorium with its bench style seating and the pre-show mumbling and laughter from the crowd really added to the atmosphere of the production.

The group performed all 23 Canterbury Tales with just five actors in around two hours, which is certainly quite a feat.

The stories were told in a variety of manners using music, dance, poetry, mime, farce, opera, and a rap-battle.

Each tale has been modernised so you wont be wrestling with middle English for two hours.

The play follows a group of pilgrims who decide to hold a story-telling contest on the road from Southwark to the shrine of St Thomas Beckett in Canterbury. Each pilgrim in turn tells a tale, and the audience were urged to vote for their favourite, a nice twist considering the original text never detailed who told the best tale.

Stand out stories included The Pardoner’s Tale, making excellent use of the minimalist set, The Miller’s Tale, the famous Wife of Bath’s Tale, and The Clerk’s Tale, which was reminiscent of an old televised public service announcement and was very funny.

The show captured The Canterbury Tales in a way making them accessible for all audiences, and plays heavily on the bawdy humour prominent throughout the original text, but it is suitable for all ages.

The Pantaloons have done an excellent job adapting The Canterbury Tales and I very much look forward to seeing their future productions.

To find out more about The Pantaloons visit www.thepantaloons.co.uk. Thanks to Christ’s Hospital theatre.

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