Trading Faces, The Wife of Bath

Review in Issue 11-4 | Winter 1999

In Trading Faces’ production of The Wife of Bath the company use contemporary cliches and anecdotes to bring the story into the twentieth century, whilst remaining true to its original ideals. The personalities of the ensemble of modern day characters are derived from the Chaucerian pilgrims. The Wife herself, portrayed by Thomasina Carlyle, is a boisterous, saucy character – the epitome of mediaeval girl power.

Tony Davies as both The Knight and The Pardonner uses his physique to great comic effect, and Marcia Pook’s grace in motion is breathtaking. As The Virgin and The Prioress, she wears a full mask, with the rest of the cast in half mask. The company’s art is so well crafted that the masks show every expression and I was constantly amazed that these static faces could show so many emotions. Possibly the most amazing thing about this production is that the eight hugely different characters are created by just four talented and versatile actors.

The great comic creation of the piece is The Hag, hilariously played by Simon Hutchens. The pace during these scenes is frantic and fantastically funny, providing some of the best visual comedy in the show. This is Chaucer as you’ve never seen it before – it’s bawdy, it’s fun, it’s mask theatre at its best.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-4
p. 24