Trestle Theatre, Blood and Roses

Review in Issue 13-1 | Spring 2001

Trestle is coming up to its twenty-first birthday which will see the opening of its permanent base in St Albans. It bodes well, then, that their latest venture, Blood and Roses - The Story of Lambert Simnel, met with such enthusiasm from locals at St Albans Abbey Theatre.

Captured twenty years earlier in the failed battle of Stoke, Simnel’s punishment is to work in the royal kitchens. From here he recalls his life as a ten-year-old imposter to the English throne. The present-day scenes, set in said kitchen, spark with the friction between the slightly overblown characters. They are determinedly naturalistic – the only masks in sight are firmly embedded into the characters’ reality

It is in the interjection of the more stylised flashback scenes that the production fails. These are signposted with clunky lighting changes. The brown kitchen set is so fussy with period detail that it rarely manages the transformations into the various required locations. Masks are little more than identity-badges for the rebels (half-masks) and the Tudors (full mask which render their voices Dalek-like). There was no such division in the earlier work where the worlds of the silent masked characters and the speaking unmasked characters overlaid each other effortlessly

While there is no faulting the immaculate performances and crunchy, witty dialogue, Blood and Roses does not quite measure up to expectations. It is surprising that such a grown-up company feels it needs the ‘excuse’ of the flashback form to break away from a strictly representational style.

Presenting Artists
Date Seen
  1. Feb 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-1
p. 28