The Clod Ensemble / Split Britches, Lady Grey / It’s A Small House And We Lived In It Always

Review in Issue 11-4 | Winter 1999

The Clod Ensemble aim to integrate live classical music and theatre. Lady Grey is inspired by the painting ‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’ by Paul Delaroche and could perhaps best be described as an evocation of the tensions which remain latent in the picture. I found it enthralling and left the theatre with a strong desire to revisit the original painting.

The production is physically minimal, yet visually and musically rich. A string quartet play throughout (barring one highly effective moment of silence). The set consists of a high, harsh wall before which the characters move very simply – a slow walk, a fearful look, a long reaching gesture. They never speak. The drama is played out within the silent relationships between them, and between the characters and the musicians who become the controlling factor. Lady Jane, her maids and executioner all seem trapped within the dark tale told by the strings – their anger, terror, hope and despair forced onto them from outside. Their subtle movements appear as a kind of hopeless resistance. Lady Jane’s pride and the executioner’s guilt are pathetically human gestures that can never overcome the force of history.

Split Britches’s It’s A Small House continues the theme of traps; this time those we create for ourselves. The performers, Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver, have a wonderfully light touch and director Suzy Willson of The Clod Ensemble makes the most of it, focusing on their personal skills and qualities to create an intimate, gentle exploration of the small frustrations inherent in any close relationship. The result is both amusing and touching.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-4
p. 20