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The Canterbury Tales review at Royal Shakespeare Theatre Stratford-upon-Avon

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Building on the success of earlier shows this year, including his acclaimed Midsummer Night’s Dream, Gregory Doran is definitely a rising star. This production has all his winning hallmarks – funky and fun, imaginative and original. Who else would have Chaucer performing his introduction in rap style complete with all the crucial posturing and a bevy of ladies. However, based on the average age of the audience, most of this tongue in cheek approach is sadly lost.

The Canterbury Tales makes a good snapshot of life during the middle ages and as such reveals more about life during those times and of the pilgrims, who represent an interesting cross section of society. It also offers us an insight into Chaucer’s own understanding of human nature, which is always bordering on the bawdy and extreme.

Compelling performaces are given by Claire Benedict as The Wife of Bath, Paola Dionisotti as The Prioress and The Host played by Barry McCarthy. All have a natural presence that draws you to them, particularly Dionisotti, whose rendition of life as a woman married five times is quite an eye opener. Certainly a great way to enjoy Chaucer.

Production Information

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, December 6-February 4

Geoffrey Chaucer
Gregory Doran, Rebecca Gatwood, Jonathtan Munby
Nick Barber, Claire Benedict, Daon Broni, Dylan Charles, Paola Dionisotti, Lisa Ellis, Christopher Godwin, Mark Hadfield
Running time

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