Review: Blame Not Our Author

ZoƩ Barnes 21 January 2017

I read the ‘Brief Historic Notes on the Play’ twice… it’s that sort of play. Blame Not Our Author’s commitment to the antiquated oddity of staging a Jesuit theatrical, a seventeenth century play based on a Euclidean textbook, was admirable and startling. Ultimately, for all its flaws, this made it a very enjoyable farce, to be regarded with mute fascination.

The set was interesting, the most sinister of crib mobiles, casting shadows over the walls as it was endlessly assembled and disassembled. With such a simple and stylised set, more attention ought to have been paid to creating a similarly stylised costume, whether simply by adding some colour, or by taking it away, though the decision to have the different characters representing contemporary stereotypes was both thoughtful and inventive. It would have been interesting to see these explored further. The lighting choices were simple, flashes of red light used to bask the stage in a sinister glow, and the speed with which light and sound were switched on and off could have felt clumsy and jarring, but perfectly recalled the bizarre volte-faces of the storyline and the corners of a square.

Overall, the cast did a relatively good job, given the source material, but may have benefited from tighter direction. Quadro (Olly Francis) spoke well, and certainly animated the proceedings with attention to physicality while Rectangulus (Elise Hagan) brought both subtlety and energy, perfect in the role of an Iago-esque saboteur, complete with a perfected demonic laugh. Line (Eimear Ryan-Charleton) was a ditzy, frothing bubble of misplaced sensuality and all the different meanings of, and plays on, the word ‘line’ wouldn’t be enough to express the general effect of such a characterisation. Circulus (Nick Hendy) was good, the physicality a little clumsy but very expressive and attuned to the demands of the script, and well matched with Triangulus. Between the two of them, they perfectly upheld a parody of social constraints and seventeenth century tropes.

As invariably happens with Week 0 productions, it felt under rehearsed, and some decisions made no sense. That said, it could be argued that this added to the overwhelming sense of intriguing strangeness. Why was Compass (Linnea Lagerqvist) throwing sweets? Was it a bribe? If so, they didn’t make it to the second row.

Overall, that which sold the production was the sheer tongue-in-cheek lack of pretension with which it was performed. If you wish to try something a little kooky, a bit pointless and a lot amusing, Blame Not Our Author is recommended. You’ll thank yourself for it later.