This isn’t a sponsored post.
BrumHour saw The Fair Maid of the West at the invite of The RSC.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
This production contains some strong language.
Review: The Fair Maid of the West at The RSC Swan Theatre
⭐⭐⭐⭐”A fusion fun-filled farce”
Directed Isobel McArthur, written by Isobel McArthur after Thomas Heywood
Told largely through the eyes of our narrator (Richard Katz), The Fair Maid of the West is a story about a young woman Liz (Amber James) who finds herself falling into and out of chaotic situations and bringing her new-found friends including Clem (Emmy Stonelake) along for the ride.
The combination of merging a play from 1631 with a 2023 writer makes for a quirky comedy-drama, and it certainly shows people in the 21st century aren’t all that different from those in the 16th/17th century.
The stage is building blocks and trapdoors with hanging signs, huge sheets and ropes which amongst other things form a bar and then later become a ship (boat). The lighting is mostly stark and there is also a jukebox in the corner which becomes a random plot point throughout.
A knowledge of Spanish is helpful in the second half of the story but certainly not essential and the dialogue plays with linguistics and language throughout.
I enjoyed this production quite a lot, just the sheer gusto of it and the cheeky playful tone meant I smiled at moments and laughed at other moments. The audience seemed to enjoy lots of the puns as well as reacting noticeably to the character’s emotions.
Amber James is excellent as our hero, fighting through her situations and pulling the audience along with ease. Tom Babbage steals scenes throughout but really comes into his own in the second half as Windbag the postman. Emmy Stonelake is great as young tomboy Clem, while David Rankine’s wonderful turn as The King Of Spain is sure to leave smiles on most people’s faces.
This is certainly something different for The RSC as it combines a four hundred year-old non-Shakespeare with an Edinburgh fringe style of humour, I could see audiences enjoying this production across the UK on a tour in venues of all sizes.
A fusion fun-filled farce, The Fair Maid of the West is at The RSC’s Swan Theatre until 14th January. Book tickets here: rsc.org.uk/the-fair-maid-of-the-west.