EFR - Reviews of Mock Tudor by Lily Bevan

Mock Tudor by Lily Bevan

Wed 30th July – Mon 25th August 2014

reviews

Amber Roberts

at 01:40 on 8th Aug 2014

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As I walked into the dimly lit pleasant theatre to encounter a bunch of grandly dressed Tudors humming enthusiastically to Jesse J’s ‘Do it like a Dude’, I knew I was in for a treat. Mock Tudor documents the on and off stage antics of a bunch of amateur actors and their manager at Hampton court; their aim being to ‘guide you through the journey of the end of Henry VIII’s first marriage to Kathryn of Aragon and the beginning of his great love for Anne Boleyn’.

This cast of all-star actors, many of them RADA trained, pulled off a playful and hilariously chaotic performance, while commenting on deeper themes such as the rise of modern technology and the relationship between past and present.

Will Rastall, who has appeared on Game of Thrones and BBC Horrible Histories among others, gave a standout performance as Henry VIII. He presented the King as if he were a modern-day ladies’ man, employing cringingly provocative eyebrow gestures, and embellishing lines such as ‘Your beauty is blinding like the sun.’ His stick-on ginger beard and overtly masculine stance also complimented the caricature of a greasy king.

Lily Bevan, writer and director, alongside her role as Sophie off stage and Kathryn of Aragon on stage, stole the show. Sophie formerly worked in the gift shop at Hampton Court and was delighted to have been given the role of Katherine of Aragon last minute. Bevan’s character has an endearingly clueless way about her; declaring that she hoped to inject ‘Spanish fire’ and ‘Latina passion’ into the role. However, she continually forgot her lines, missed her cues and simply couldn’t manage to maintain her Spanish accent. After being reminded, on stage, that Catherine of Aragon is in fact Spanish, she occasionally managed to put on a forced, slow Spanish mumble. She even managed to give Katherine of Aragon various ridiculous South African, American and twittering animal accents by mistake, which had the audience in fits of laughter.

One of the only criticisms that comes to mind is the slightly cringe love story that develops between Henry VIII’s and Anne Boleyn’s off-stage characters, Sam and Jess, which seems a little unnecessary to the storyline. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a bit of history, a bit of truth, a lot of laughs and some ‘Latina Passion’, then Mock Tudor is the play for you.

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Serena Gosling

at 10:57 on 8th Aug 2014

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Mock Tudor is a delightful new piece of writing following the lives of four (somewhat) incompetent actors and their slimy boss as they try to please a technology literate audience with 1543 period drama.

Set in the historic halls of Hampton Court, the play contains everything from a new take on Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ to the Tudor version of a feminist speech. As you walk in, the cast are all in period dress surrounded by radios and biscuit tins, happily singing along to Jessie J’s ‘Do it like a Dude’. This sets the scene perfectly and has the audience giggling before the first exchange.

Whilst their characters may be bad actors, the comic timing and delivery from the cast cannot be faulted. Acting within a play can sometimes be difficult but this cast pull it off perfectly. Indeed, the highlight of the show is the characters’ attempts to ‘improvise’ period drama. Encompassing missed cues, South African accents and botched costumes, I am drawn in by their hilarious endeavours to deliver a Tudor drama, and delighted in each new development.

Cleverly off-setting these stilted exchanges, the dialogue in the changing room is much more natural, yet equally captivating. Each actor brings something different to the play and all deserve a mention. Lily Bevan as Sophie is hilarious both in her attempts at a Spanish accent and her incredibly incompetent portrayal of Kathryn of Aragon. Emily Gilchrist’s cheeky delivery of both the outspoken Nic and ‘Wench’ is a joy to watch. Sophie Bleasdale stands out for the raw emotion she displays as Jess, and it was this natural delivery that really stole the show.

Will Rastall, as Sam, struggles a little to keep up with the girls’ energy in places. Nevertheless, the chemistry between him and Bleasdale is electric and his meeker character contrasted well with the more headstrong girls. Fraser Millward as the conniving Kent Rawlinson adds the perfect amount of slander and smugness into the mix.

Mock Tudor is a beautifully delivered, polished and hilarious production. The scene changes between acting period drama in front of an audience to the more private changing room were slick and the costumes were suitably extravagant. The concept is interesting and the comic timing of the actors faultless. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an hour of fun at the Fringe.

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