Thursday, 13 July 2017

Monmouth: a great story well told

On a balmy summer night, we pootle down to Lyme Regis and manage to find a space in the car park near the Cobb.

We don't want to be late because we understand a certain gentleman is due to arrive, along with a small band of supporters.

We're here to see Monmouth, the Lyme Regis community play and we want to be in on the action, right at the start. You see it was here, in June 1685, that the Duke of Monmouth landed, intent on gathering a rebel army along the way to seize the throne from his unpopular uncle, James II.

The Monmouth Rebellion, which I've written about before, led to the last battle on English soil, some thirty four years after the English Civil War. 

It could have worked but, for many reasons, it didn't. It was a sad episode in our history. And the bloody aftermath was shocking, with the notorious Judge Jeffreys ordering men to be hanged, drawn and quartered, left, right and centre, their remains displayed around villages and towns to act as a warning against future dissent.

Others were transported as slaves to the West Indies. I'll never really be sure what happened to my ancestors who were caught up in the Rebellion.
Monmouth director Clemmie Reynolds. Picture: Simon Emmett
And when Alice, the central character in Monmouth played by a mesmerising Anne King, asks the audience who would have stayed to fight such a hopeless fight, it was a poignant moment. How many of us would really give up our lives for such a cause? Wouldn't it be easier to keep our heads down and say nothing and try to get on with our lives as best we can?

In Andrew Rattenbury's play, there are many moments which resonate with the happenings in today's troubled word.

But from the start on the beach to the procession along Marine Parade behind the enigmatic Duke (an incredible debut performance by photographer Nick Ivins), with assorted members of the cast giving lofty proclamations along the way, to the play itself at the wonderfully-located Marine Theatre overlooking the sea, the production is an absolute joy to the end.

Some incredible performances and a great story well told by Rattenbury and director Clemmie Reynolds make this an unforgettable event.

Don't take my word for it - read this review by Gay Pirrie-Weir in the Fine Time Recorder and another review by writer Sophia Moseley to find out more.

Monmouth's last night at Lyme is on Saturday but the production will tour Dorset, Devon and Somerset in Autumn 2017:

Wednesday 13 September – Regal Theatre, Minehead
Thurs 14 September – Phoenix, Exeter
Fri 15 September – Bridport Arts Centre
Fri 29 September – Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth
Sun 8 October – Dorchester Arts Centre
Sat 11 November – Beehive Honiton

Be a part of it.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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