Theatre review: The Cardinals at the Roundhouse Studio Theatre

17:23 17 January 2013

The Cardinals
Roundhouse

The Cardinals Roundhouse

Archant

Hilarious parody of puppet theatre without the puppets is skilfully performed

THE CARDINALS

Roundhouse Studio Theatre, Chalk Farm Road, NW1

Five stars

Three cardinals, in full scarlet dress and hats, and a Muslim woman in well-cut jeans, sweater and hijab, have devised an evangelical puppet show which tells the story of the world, from the Creation to the contemporary situation in the Middle East.

But there are no puppets. And no audible words either. So what kind of theatre is this? It is bizarre and ingenious; hilarious and profound; funny and thoughtful. And skillfully performed – without any of the self-indulgence so often associated with devised productions.

This play is Stan’s Café Theatre’s contribution to the 2013 London International Mime Festival.

The set, ingeniously designed by Miguel Angel Bravo, represents both a puppet theatre and the wings, where props, ladders, scenery, costumes, etc – all the stuff that normally the audience cannot see – are heaped in apparent confusion.

The actors (Gerard Bell, Rochi Rampal, Graeme Rose, Craig Stephens), when they are not performing onstage as ludicrously oversized puppets, work as stage crew.

They thrust the scenery and props (made and collected in an appropriate variety of styles and sizes by Harry Trow) in and out of the theatre, racing from side to side of it, tripping on their long coats (the hats are soon abandoned), manipulating expanses of fabric, arguing and bumping into each other, donning and doffing minimal bits of costumes and somehow moving the show along in a hilarious parody of contemporary puppet performances.

The funniest moment for me was when large, ungainly feet and legs came through the top of the theatre and walked unsteadily on a wobbling piece of blue fabric to represent Christ walking on water.

The second act is just as funny and clever as the first, but the laughter begins to die away as the Crusades, the Inquisition, and especially the current situation in Israel/Palestine are caricatured with wooden swords, cardboard tanks and fabric blood. For all its merriment, this play forces its audiences to think of issues too deep for laughter.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Read more
Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Read more

Latest Tech News